Jay-Z is many things: hip-hop mogul, co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, husband to Beyoncé Knowles and one of President Obama's earliest and seemingly closest supporters. In a June 2008 issue of Rolling Stone, then-candidate Obama said "every time I talk to Jay-Z, who is a brilliant talent and a good guy, I enjoy how he thinks." In a 2010 song, the rapper boasted he had "Obama on the text," and last month Jay-Z and Beyoncé raised $4 million for Obama at a campaign fundraiser at New York's 40/40 club.
In a new ad released today by the Obama campaign, Jay-Z spoke seriously about the national impact of the Obama presidency and the importance of voting.
At the beginning of the video, Jay-Z reminisces about Obama first being elected. "What he represented to a nation of kids was hope," he said. "The hope of people across the country that would see themselves and know the possibilities."
The ad then cuts to video of the president speaking (via video screen) at Jay-Z's most recent Made in America music festival. The president described the rapper as a quintessential example of the American Dream, saying " he didn't come from power or from privilege, he got ahead because he worked heard, learned from his mistakes and just plain refused to quit."
Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy Houses projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and started dealing drugs at a young age. Today, he is one of the most successful hip-hop artists of all time and has a reported net worth of $460 million.
Jay-Z also credits the president with giving the American people a voice, saying "now people exercise their right and you start to see the power of our vote. He made it mean something for the first time for a lot of people, having someone in office who understands how powerful our voice can be."
As msnbc analyst Ari Melber points out in a blog for the Nation, this isn't the first time the Obama campaign has turned to the rapper for messaging help. "In 2008, the Obama campaign distributed several Jay-Z videos that went viral, including footage of Jay-Z's poem about the legacy of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Obama himself," Melber writes.
With three weeks to go to the general election, President Obama is calling in the music industry big wigs. On Thursday, Bruce Springsteen will campaign for the president at a rally in Parma, Ohio.