December 9th, 2008
03:51 PM ET

Rapper Common: Obama will change hip-hop's attitude

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/09/common.universal.mind.control/art.common1.jpg caption="Common says he was looking for a new sound on his eighth album, "Universal Mind Control.""]

By Eliott C. McLaughlin

The rapper Common wants to take hip-hop in a new direction, he says, and he has an unsuspecting ally - President-elect Barack Obama.

Obama "is going to change hip-hop for the better," predicted the rapper, whose eighth album, "Universal Mind Control" (G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen), hits shelves Tuesday.

"I really do believe we as hip-hop artists pick up what's going on in the world and try to reflect that," he told CNN, outlining his belief that mainstream as well as so-called "conscious" rappers - the more socially aware - will pick up on what he sees as the more optimistic prospects of an Obama presidency.

"I think hip-hop artists will have no choice but to talk about different things and more positive things, and try to bring a brighter side to that because, even before Barack, I think people had been tired of hearing the same thing," he said.

Likewise, "Universal Mind Control," with its hook-heavy, synthed-out tracks, represents a "broadening" of hip-hop's audience - one that demands evolution rather than hackneyed revamps of old beats, rhythms and rhymes, Common said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Brenda Harris

    This country has gone too far; it started with the playboy bunny. We have become so immoral it makes me want to throw up. I can't stand nudity of any kind anymore. Nor do I like drinking, smoking, drugs or sex. All are killers or make you want kill; I guess that's some of what rappers have been rapping about. It's time to bring morality back. It's time to dress up our minds; not our behinds. Also learning is truly FUNdamental. A change has got to come.

    December 9, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  2. Ash

    It’s crazy for Common to say that Obama will change hip-hop. President elect Obama may be an inspiration for Common to change the content and direction of his music, but it is extremely unlikely that this new content will catch on with other artists. How exactly is Obama supposed to provide inspiration for artists to portray more optimistic rap? Understandably, the fact that he is the first African American President elect and the symbolization this has in reference to the progress African Americans have made since the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would suffice as optimistic content for rappers. However, simply because there is an African American President elect does not mean that the African American life is going to change for the better overnight. There are still going to be slums, ghettos, children born out of wedlock, and high rates of incarceration facing the African American family and community. Lack in education and crime-ridden neighborhoods are still going to be present even though Obama is to become President. These negative factors that were, and still are, plaguing the community and lives of artists like Common, will remain the core content of rap and hip-hop albums in the future, regardless of the impact Obama will have as President of the United States.

    December 9, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  3. Larry

    Exploitation of women is just as pervasive in rap as any other music genre.

    December 9, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  4. Sandra L. Reed Ohio

    Hip-hop has offered an explicit avenue of socio-political protest to us against a culture that has systematically excluded all things culturally Black from having freedom of expression. President-Elect Barack Obama makes years of Black hopes and struggles a successful reality.

    December 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  5. Sue, Billerica, MA

    Condi Rice the other day in an interview said the most profound thing when asked about having a black president and her success as a black woman in politics, for she implied that its not about color but about education, for as she said so profoundly, their success shows that with education all things are possible for all people. So if Obama is going to change hip hop then he has to change the educational system in the inner cities, so that all things are possible and equally possible for all Americans, no matter where or how poor they may grow up. After that statement, maybe Condi should get secretary of education position, for she hit the nail on the head and very eloquently, and I finally see why she got to were she got for I never liked her but now I do.. she seems more real in interviews now that the pressure is about to be off her... good for her!

    December 9, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  6. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Obama's success will hopefully influence young black men to apply themselves like he did and aspire for something more in life instead of the thug life that a lot of rappers sing about. Obama is proof that regardless of color or economic circumstance – we in America have the opportunity to overcome them.

    December 9, 2008 at 6:14 pm |
  7. hugh ~ california

    I'm hoping that Barack Obama will have some influence in changing the attitudes that some people feel the need to express in this music.
    Rap & Hip-Hop is not all about crime, but let's get real, some of it is. How many more rap artists getting shot in gang warfare will it take until people accept the truth? I like some this music, but not the obvious gang-rap. Some of the lyrics are outrageous and disgusting. I would not want any child listening to some of this garbage.

    December 9, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  8. Erika from Los Angeles

    Sometimes inspiration is all it takes. A role model to look up to. Rap is not just about crime...

    December 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  9. Cindy

    I don't see how Obama will change hip-hop in any way unless he goes in and makes some big changes in the inner cities to make their lives better and lessen crime there. Otherwise it's going to be the same old same old which they've always rapped about.


    December 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm |