President Obama was asked to give his opinion on probably one of the most pressing issues of our time: Kanye West or Jay-Z?
The question was part of a larger story in The Atlantic on the often troubled public perception of Kanye West. According to David Samuels, author of American Mozart, the President not only gave his stamp of approval to Jay-Z but he also added this little amendment on his impressions of Kanye:
“Although I like Kanye,” Obama continues, with an easy smile. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.” He is displaying his larger awareness of the question, looking relaxed, cerebral but friendly, alive to the moment, waiting for me to get to the heart of the matter. “Even though you called him a jackass?,” I ask. “He is a jackass,” Obama says, in his likable and perfectly balanced modern-professorial voice. “But he’s talented.”
If that doesn’t get you going, later that day came news that Beyonce recently wrote an open letter to Michelle Obama thanking the First Lady for being the “…ultimate example of a truly strong African American woman. She is a caring mother, she’s a loving wife, while at the same time, she is the First Lady!!!!” She continued. “No matter the pressure, and the stress of being under the microscope — she’s humble, loving, and sincere. She builds and nurtures her family, while also looking out for so many millions in so many ways.”
In response, Michelle Obama tweeted: “@Beyonce Thank you for the beautiful letter and for being a role model who kids everywhere can look up to. –mo.”
Aww, isn’t that special.
The well-documented friendship between the Obamas and the Carters seems endearing enough and it is easy to get all gushy over this public love fest. After all, we are talking about the most politically powerful couple in the Free Nations and the richest entertainment couple in the world. And together, they definitely play that angle up to a tee: Not only have Jay and Beyonce been special guests to the Obamas at the White House, but Michelle has also enlisted Beyonce’s expertise (i.e. singing and dancing) for the “Let’s Move”campaign. Likewise, Jay-Z has dropped Barack Obama’s name in his rhymes, and Obama referenced Jay’s lyrics when he dusted his shoulder off during a campaign appearance before he ascended to the White House. And recently there was a girl’s day out which included a brunch/lunch with Beyonce, her mother, her mother-in-law, her cousin and the first lady.
The aligning of the two powerhouse couples really helps underscore the value behind one’s own public persona. The Carters get a level of mainstream legitimacy that couldn’t be found alone in their music, which has been illustrated by the pictures of Jay-Z palling around with Warren Buffet, while The Obamas, in particular Barack Obama, gets to appear youthful, trendy and cool to a younger generation of potential voters. Yet as folks fawn over pictures and stories of The Obamas and The Carters union, little critique and analysis is actually given to what is built upon the friendship: celebrity or actual shared policies?