Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rhymes & Life: My First Election Day (Nov. 4, 2008)

After several visits from both campaigns, seeing the iconic “HOPE” Obama poster plastered all over campus, an onslaught of Facebook posts attacking each candidate, and playing Q-Tip’s lead single “Gettin’ Up” in my headphones walking to classes, Nov. 4 was finally among us.

Like with any big life moment I’ve had since Summer 2000 (when I first heard a rapper named Eminem, and subsequently fell in love with the genre and culture), I could trace Nov. 4, 2008 back to specific hip hop record.
That record was “The Renaissance” by Q-Tip.
Sure “The Renaissance” was one of the best albums in 2008, and was one of the most anticipated albums in sometime, what makes that album so memorable was its release date. Nov. 4 was not only the day the Tribe Called Quest alum released his long-awaited (9 years to be exact) sophomore LP, but it was also the day our nation elected Barack Obama as President.
Say what you will about Obama and his polarizing first term as president (personally as a recent college grad making $10.50 an hour, I’m grateful I can still be on my parents’ health care plan), but you cannot take anything away from the historical event that took place on Nov. 4, 2008.
I was a freshman at Bowling Green State University at the time, and it was my first time in a very politically charged, left wing-leaning environment. I was never really involved in politics prior to going to college, but all of a sudden, it seemed to matter (maybe it’s because I was finally eligible to vote?) Some of my favorite moments as a Freshman at BG was hanging out with my friends, watching the Presidential Debates in our dorm room and mocking everything the poorly spoken John McCain said, and laughing every time my friend said how handsome Obama was.
Like much of my college experience, I remember nothing about classes on that particular Tuesday. I’m assuming I did go, because I knew my mom was going to pick me up to take me home to vote, and she almost certainly inquire about my class attendance. But I do remember vividly waiting about ten minutes at the polling place, casting my vote, then rushing back to BG before the record store closed so I could get the new Q-Tip album.
For the rest of night, I sat in my dorm room playing the album front-to-back a few times while playing my roommate in Madden 09, and maybe finishing up some homework, before the results were announced. I was blown away by the production – that classic boom bap that Tribe mastered in the early 90s, but with subtle modern twist. The guitars of “Johnny is Dead,” the vocal cuts and bassline on “Won’t Trade” and spastic drum patterns of “Manwomanboogie” echoed throughout my dorm room for at least a month straight.
And after probably no less than 20 times of playing the moody “You,” it was time to see who won the election. I remember it not being as close as people had predicted, and Obama locked it up relatively early (compared to the Bush races, at least), but it still didn’t take away from the excitement of my first Election Day. 

After the announcement was made official that America had voted it’s first African-American President, it was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever been a part of. In my four years at college, seeing people celebrate the first black President by running around campus and pulling fire alarms, was easily the most memorable moment. While I played Nas’ “Black President” and Young Jeezy’s “My President,” outside was chaos, but in a non-threatening jovial way.
Obama’s acceptance speech at the end of the night was truly incredible. After the initial pandemonium that had occurred moments after the announcement, campus drew to a deafening silence while Obama spoke for the first time as President Elect. 

So like I said earlier, people who gave Obama their undying allegiance in 2008, may not support him anymore, or may not be as optimistic as they were on the day he was elected, it was still an amazing day. And every time I play Q-Tip’s “The Renaissance,” I go back to that time of hope, optimism and excitement for what the future will bring.

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