Will Rappers Cost Obama the Election?

Please, Plies, come out in support of Sarah Palin

Young Jeezy's brief flirtation with John McCain on the set of Saturday Night Live aside, it's clear rappers favor Barack Obama by a wide margin in this election. (Check out this survey, for starters.) Though emcee after emcee has supported Obama with endorsement tracks, the big-ups at this point are likely doing more harm than good. Witness the negative media reaction to Ludacris's Hillary/McCain/Bush-bashing “Politics as Usual” cut, which caused the Obama campaign to distance itself from the overzealous rapper. Really, isn't there something to be said for keeping the particularly trigger-happy faction of the party under wraps, much like the right does with their lock-and-load lunatics? Those 50 Cent posters advocating John Kerry's election in 2004 certainly didn't work, and one suspects Scarface's endorsement this time around will only hurt matters. (Perhaps it's advantageous that M-1 from Dead Prez is campaigning for Cynthia McKinney, although it seems strange for members of a group advocating assassination to give an endorsement at all.)
In any case, we've selected a handful of rapper endorsements—along with some other remarkable Obama tributes—and graded them on a scale of one to five McCain heads. The more McCain mugs, the worse the damage. —Ben Westhoff

Ludacris, “Politics as Usual”

In this now-infamous track, Luda calls Hillary a bitch (or a “beh-zup” in the edited version), asks for a pardon if he's ever in prison, calls Bush mentally handicapped and says, oddly, “McCain don’t belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed.” Right out of the Ben Affleck and Barbra Streisand “How to Lose Votes for Your Candidate” playbook. Damage: 5 McCain heads

Kidz In The Hall, “Work To Do”

“Work To Do” is vaguely soulful and non-threatening in a Sunday BBQ/Fuddruckers-soundtrack sort of way. While the track may not be particularly memorable, it's certainly non-offensive. (Interesting side note: a YouTube version of the “Work To Do” remix features Bun B temporarily withholding his support for Obama. “And believe me,” he adds. “I got the power to move things. I can swing the vote in any state.” Send that man to New Mexico!) Damage: 1 McCain head

East Coast Avengers, “Kill Bill O’Reilly”

While this track isn't technically in support of Barack Obama, it is a fairly obnoxious piece of Red-State-baiting, even taking knuckleheaded swipes at O'Reilly like “I wanna hurt you/ Immerse you in torture,” whatever that means. This song—along with HYPERLINK “http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2008/09/hippie_double_dutch.php” t “_blank” those hippie double dutchers protesting the RNC—is exactly the kind of stuff that rallies the right in an election year. Damage: 5 McCain heads

Nas, “Black President”

In a bit of reverse psychology, Nas samples Tupac saying, “Although it seems heaven sent/ We ain't ready to have a black president.” Pretty nifty! This may have the effect of causing bigots in West Virginia to vote for Obama simply to spite Nas. Damage: 1 McCain head

Barack Obama and Rick Astley, “Barack Rolled”

This viral video has surely done more for Obama's campaign than all those other songs combined. If Rick Astley would just get it over with and endorse Barack, this thing would be over. Damage: 1 McCain head

John Rich, “Raisin’ McCain”

McCain would seem to have the country redneck vote sewn up, but this lil' ditty, performed by Big N Rich's John Rich at the Republican National Convention, could actually hurt the campaign. After all, drawing parallels among the septuagenarian candidate and a fruit laxative is probably not a good idea. Damage: 1 McCain head

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