Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama Makes History: The Night I'll Never Forget

I began this post at 3:00 AM on election night (morning, technically), but fell asleep in the middle of its completion. Truth be told, I was in too much of an alcoholic daze (Amaretto - my vice) to fully illustrate my thoughts and reactions from the night. Hands down, it was one of the most -- if not the most -- epic days of my life.

For starters, it was important to me because it was the first time that I'd cast my vote for the President of the United States (I was 17 when Kerry ran for office). Second, Barack Obama had been my choice for years (yes, years), and having followed every detail of his presidential campaign, I felt that all my spent efforts were worth every second. Third, it felt great to be a Democrat and a winner on the same night. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I felt prouder to be an American than I'd ever imagined. This was due in large part to the physical setting I found myself in on election night.

Growing up, I'd spend any other election night at home watching the results on television. This year I wanted to ring in this epic moment in a more festive and vibrant manner. To put it bluntly (watch the YouTube clip below to catch the pun) and succinctly: I partied my ass off. I attended a party at the Hyatt Regent Century Plaza in Century City here in lovely Los Angeles. It was a night like no other. Thousands and thousands of people were lined up to get into the hotel which was packed with politicians, celebrities and the like. After waiting for 30 minutes in a line which felt like it was going nowhere, I snuck myself in through a side entrance (no joke). The action taking place inside the hotel was amazing.

The lobby was packed with a colorful crowd of proud Obama voters. From the grizzled political junkie who smuggled a flask full of gin to the loud teenagers who, though they couldn't vote, supported Obama vigorously; the first-time voters, the expatriates who traveled back home to be a part of history and the elderly African Americans who had dreamed of this moment for decades; to all who attended and rejoiced, cried, laughed on one another's arms and shoulders - it was a moment unlike any other I've ever experienced. As the pundits continued to call and predict the states, the enthusiasm in the crowd began to surge with ever-increasing energy and optimism. Finally, at around 8:00 PM (PST), the results were in. And the winner is...

As John McCain wrapped up his concession speech, the room fell silent. It was now Obama's time to shine. As he spoke with his ever-present elegance and humility, the room once again broke down into an abundance of overflowing emotion. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Straight, Gay, Young, Old; this sea of people embraced one another as brothers and sisters. Truly, Barack Obama has not only the ability to lead, but the ability to unite us all.

But the festivities had hardly begun! Downstairs from the hotel's lobby was where the real party was on and crackin'. TV journalists were reporting from this packed ballroom full of people from wall to wall. The main event? DJ Z-Trip and Shepard Fairey were doing what they do best! Fairey was posting up his artwork on a constantly-updated canvas (shown above) while Z-Trip was gettin' down with the sounds of victory. "Yes We Can Can" by the Pointer Sisters (included in The Tape Deck #13, by the way) blasted from the speakers as Z-Trip blended in cuts by Queen ("We Are the Champions"), The Mohawks ("The Champ"), Bob Marley ("One Love") and many, many more. I'm glad to say that I've finally gotten to see Z-Trip live - his set was amazing. Some of those b-girls were lookin' good as well... Overall, it was a night of triumph and love. 'nuff said.

In summation, this historic night epitomized my combined interests in politics and music, especially -- though not necessarily exclusively -- of socially conscious content (hence, Hip Hop Is Read was born). I've always felt that politics and music not only go hand-in-hand with one another, but mutually benefit from their own synthesis. Such a synthesis was needed, I believe, to get out the youth vote as Obama evidently did to propel himself to the highest office of the land. But I believe that the Obama victory was successful thanks to the relationship between two important cultural mainstays. It'd be hard to argue that the Civil Rights generation hadn't planted the seeds of perseverance and the struggle for a better tomorrow in today's youth. Accordingly, I feel that the youth of the country reawakened the revolutionary willpower of the older generation. Together, these two demographics were able to secure the Obama victory. As a student of the former group and a member of the latter, I can speak with pride and certainty that I feel fully immersed within this piece of history. We all are.

...and this is only the beginning...

To quote the Skull Snaps on one of the most sampled songs in all of hip hop:
"It's a new day... and a better day's comin'"

More videos to recap the night: