Barack Obama Sang To Malia, But He Also Had Kendick Lamar Perform And That’s So Much Better
Every American probably did something this weekend that they might regret. It was a long summer weekend and whether it was a getting guacamole on your crop top or popping one too many beers before curfew, we are all forgiven. It was the Fourth of July, after all. No one did it better than the Obama’s, though. President Obama sang Happy Birthday to Malia at the official White House celebration, after dutifully thanking the military and saying a few presidential words about the holiday.
And it was terrible. When he went into it, Malia was right there on stage with him and gave him a big, cheesy, dad-daughter hug while turning 18 on the same day as America’s silly birthday holiday. It was adorable and so very President Obama.
But you know what else was so very President Obama? He had Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monáe perform at the official White House Fourth of July party. Um, say what? While I love me a good version of Happy Birthday, Obama crooning to his embarrassed daughter is way less interesting than whatever Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monáe did at the barbecue for veterans and their families. Because, seriously? Kendrick Lamar?! I would have watched that all morning.
The capitol’s bash was moved to the East Room of the White House due to rain and winds. So Kendrick Lamar — let me repeat, Kendrick Lamar — performed in the East Room of the White House. If you don’t love Lamar already, that’s OK by me for now. But he is by far one of the most talented and interesting hip hop artists to exist right now. Being a talented, take no shit, hip hop artist and staying afloat in mainstream culture is not an easy feat, but he does it.
The fact that Obama invited Lamar (Monáe was also there, and depending on your music diet, you might never have heard of her, but you should probably give her a listen) to perform at the most holiest of American days (besides the Super Bowl) in Washington D.C. is a really big fucking deal. What’s funny about all of the recaps of the BBQ at the White House yesterday is that everyone is thrilled to see Obama, our president, singing poorly to Malia. But we’ve all seen him sing poorly before. Who cares? Kendrick Lamar performed inside the White House.
What I care about is that Obama invited Lamar to perform at the White House because Obama knows Kendrick Lamar’s music. He told People that Lamar’s song How Much a Dollar Cost was one of his favorite songs of 2015. Because of that, at one of his almost-last appearances as commander-in-chief, Obama invited one of the most socially conscious and talented hip hop artists to take the stage in his house. Lamar’s songs are chanted at Black Lives Matter rallies, and he is an artist who speaks to inequality and racism with every beat.
Lamar’s Grammy performance should be enough to make anyone who isn’t a fan, a fan (and it should make Kanye think very seriously about what he wants to do as a musician). Because Lamar is everything. If you still need a twist of the arm, he’s also featured on Beyoncé’s Freedom, and their performance at the BET Awards two weeks ago was out of control.
Trying to hunt down the stream of Lamar performing Monday night is hard, and it’s a shame that if it had been, for example, Taylor Swift, I feel like we would be able to track down better soundbites and videos. Instead, we get Obama singing Happy Birthday, which is cute, but not on Lamar’s level.
I’m not saying the fact that a black hip hop artist performed at the White House is being overshadowed by Obama’s rendition of Happy Birthday, but I’m not not saying that Lamar’s performance is pretty much nowhere to be found, even though Instagram and Snapchat and the internet exist. Sure, there’s the recording of the whole performance, but what’s floating around is Obama singing to his daughter and that just shouldn’t be a thing anymore.
I love the Obama’s because they brought back some parties, with lots of different kinds of people D.C. politicians aren’t necessarily used to. With Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House? Things are going to be very different. For sure, Lamar won’t be at the table or anywhere near a stage in the White House, and that’s just something we’re all going to have to think about when we vote for the least worst thing come November.