Edgelings

Hip Hop, Technology and Other Inaugural Thoughts

While watching the inauguration, I was planning to write about the first thing that came to mind:  how similar things are now, as President Obama enters his initial days as World leader, and how things stood in America back in 1933, as Franklin Roosevelt did the same.  But that’s a different, more somber story for another day . . . because I was also struck by how much technology was ushered into the political process on that very first day.  So I decided to write on that instead.
 
Technology, and hip-hop:  Two things in fairly short supply during the Bush administration, but now bringing a tiny sliver of the Obama spotlight to a pair of young men from the Bay Area.
One, a rapper already fairly established in East Oakland, but who suddenly finds himself on the national stage, thanks to both timing, and social networking.
Another, because of family ties, and viral video.
 
D Labrie walks into Oakland’s “Youth Uprising” center as someone younger kids look up to.  He’s been a rapper for years now, and is finally reaping the rewards of hard work.  Back in early 2008, D wrote a song called “Vote For Barack,” about how his candidate was uplifting young people of all colors and backgrounds.  Add a steady beat, put it up on MySpace & YouTube, and D had a hit on his hands.  All of the sudden his tour stops were full of way more people than before, all asking for his song about Obama.  When he, by chance, met some of Obama’s campaign staffers, they asked him about the song.  Not the other way around.  Now, D drives a nice car when he pulls up to the Youth Center, and everyone wants to know what he’ll do next.
 
For “Lil’ Yani,” everything is new.  Yani (real name Ayanius Saucer) is all of six years old.  His rap, called “Obama Made Me Proud,” is brand new, and was written by his 62-year old great grandmother.  Yani’s video, filmed mostly in Emeryville’s Grill recording Studio, has been downloaded tens of thousands of times on YouTube.  Everyone in his family is surprised, both by how popular he is, and by how quickly things can spread on the ‘net.
 
Given Obama’s much talked about link to the tech world, not to mention the sleek new whitehouse.gov website, it’s pretty clear that technology is front and center in Washingtong these days, even while our economy needs saving.  If you have an idea, put it online.  Chances are, it’ll be seen and heard .. maybe even by someone in the White House