Monday, November 17, 2008

Untitled [The Samples] (Obama '08 Edition)

It's been a good year. Hip hop had a lot to do with it. I like to think that hip hop was a catalyst for the youth to get off their asses and participate in not only stepping in the voting booth, but building a grassroots effort to mobilize a nation-wide movement. I also like to think that Nas was at the forefront of this new shift in social consciousness. This album -- they call it Untitled, but the heads know it's real name -- was a committed effort by Mr. Jones, and I think it's gonna end up at the top of my fellow bloggers' year-end lists as, if not the greatest rap album of the year, certainly its most profound.

In all, the album only featured three song samples. It also included a vocal sample by the late Tupac Shakur. Of course, I've included them in this set. But I've also included three important speeches. The first one is Barack Obama's Iowa Caucus Victory Speech, in which he proclaimed: "They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned, to ever come together around a common purpose". The second one is Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama back in March where he concluded his speech by saying: "It is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce... the next president of the United States, Barack Obama." Excerpts from both of these speeches were included in the original mixing of Nas' "Black President", produced by Green Lantern. The original mix with Obama's and Richardson's vocals appeared on a mixtape as well as several blogs. Personally, I enjoy that version much more than the album's mix, so I replaced it in my music folder! Simple. (For those that still haven't heard it, you can get it on my copy of The Tape Deck Volume #13: The Barack Obama Edition) Finally, I've included Obama's speech on November 4th of this year as a bonus track. This was his victory speech; his acceptance speech. You can consider this sample set a time capsule of sorts; a portrait of 2008.

But I also like to think of it as something of a musical biography for Barack Obama. The first track of this set, "Summer '78", bares significance because the Summer of 1978 marked his graduation of the esteemed Punahou Academy, before he set off on his path towards higher learning where he would rise to become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Track two is titled "Message from a Black Man" featuring The Whatnauts who holler on the chorus: "No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now". The also state: "Yes, my skin is black. But that's no reason to hold me back". I like to think of that as something of a motto or slogan for Barack Obama's travails through the racial tensions of the United States of America. Track three is The Persuaders' "We're Just Trying to Make It", another underdog anthem of sorts. The song exudes the emotions of the now-famous chant "Yes we can". I can visualize it as part of the soundtrack during Obama's community organizing days.

Finally, the voice of the skeptical youth is portrayed by Tupac Shakur who snides: "Although it seems heaven-sent, we ain't ready to have a black president". It wouldn't have been too unreasonable to have agreed with that message up until only a year ago. But the world has truly changed. I hope you dig this sample set as much as it was a pleasure to put together! As always, turn it up!! ...and enjoy!