So Fresh, So Clean

In Election 2008, Music, Race, US Politics on February 18, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Just to clarify something for myself and the readers, I wanted to ellaborate on the reference to Mos Def’s t-shirts that I made in my previous post.

Being somehow detached from the news and politics during the past couple of weeks (or is it months? Check the lack of posts on here from Decembr to Feb.), I missed the stories about Delaware Senator Joe Biden and his foot-in-mouth remarks about Barack Obama. Therefore, when I saw Mos Def and his band wearing shirts at a recent performance that said So Fresh, So Clean with a picture of Obama, I didn’t completely get the reference. I was just happy to see one of my favorite artists so openly supporting a politician that I like.

Anyway, I realized that I must be slightly missing something and did a little online research. One good post at I found at Open University said the following:

Who knew that all along Senator Biden was a hip hop artist? In an attempt to explain his intentions when calling Barack Obama the first mainstream African American candidate for president who was articulate and clean, Biden has now suggested, “I shouldn’t have said clean, what I meant was fresh.” What? This is almost too sad to be funny, but it must be said that Outkast, one of the most talented hip hop groups of all time, had a chart-topping single whose hook is:

Ain’t nobody dope as me I’m dressed so fresh so clean …

I am convinced that if Barack Obama wants to take the youth vote he should now declare this his official campaign song and rock it every time he hits the stump.I believe that race is serious business, but I also believe that we might finally be able to have a conversation about race in this country if we could approach it with a little humor. Although it is at the center of my research, I am consistently stunned about what white America does not know about black America. The political, social, and perceptual worlds in which black and and white citizens live are so vastly different. Biden’s comments touched an annoying and oft-plucked chord in African Americans. Although usually meant as a compliment, whites deploying “articulate” as a description are often advancing the notion that the ability to speak, reason, discern, and achieve is somehow notable and exceptional among black people. Individual black people, especially political candidates, want to be seen as unique and talented, but they do not want to be seen as an exception in their race. We know too well that our communities are full of articulate persons. In fact, it is black people that have provided some of the most important, enduring, and complex oral traditions to the world.

I think Obama would do well to highlight this fact by making one of these oral traditions, hip hop music, in the persons of Outkast, his official campaign soundtrack.

I must say, I agree and I think he should also contact Mos’ shirt designer and get a whole slew of those shirts printed up.

For another interesting article on this topic, check here

  1. Interesting blog. However, Obama’s drive to be a “rock star” politician will backfire, as I’ve commented on in my latest post.

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