Guests at President Obama’s final White House concert had to go through three security checkpoints before placing their cellphones in brown paper bags that would be returned to them at the end of the night.
Rather the guests, some dressed in floor-length formal gowns and others in their cocktail best, moved onto green and orange trolleys that headed slowly for the South Lawn.
A white billowing tent, decorated with chandeliers and colorful uplighting, had been constructed for the evening’s concert, which will be broadcast on BET on Nov. 15.
A six-page program for the event, titled “Love and Happiness,” was placed on gold Chiavari chairs for guests to shed light on just who would be gracing the stage: Usher, Jill Scott,Michelle Williams, Yolanda Adams, Janelle Monae and even R&B throwback group, Bel Biv Devoe.
And most interestingly — historically speaking — rap acts were also on the program, including Common, The Roots, and De La Soul.
Hip-hop and the government have long had a tumultuous history. The genre that birthed songs such as “Fight the Power” and “911 Is a Joke” seems to have irritated federal agencies from it’s very inception during the 1970s.
By the 1980s, hip-hop was labeled as anti-government and drew the ire of the then FBIAssistant Director Mitch Ahlerich, who famously sent a letter to N.W.A. for their 1988 hit, “F— the Police.”
And by 1992, Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” drew the criticism from President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle. That same year, Quayle claimed Tupac’s debut album “2Pacalyse Now” was responsible for the death of a Texas state trooper, adding that it had “no place in our society.”
At the height of the final White House concert Friday night, The Roots crew brought so many rappers on stage, they seemed to bump into each other with delight. Common, De La Soul and Roots’ frontman, Black Thought, all spit their syncopated rhymes into their microphones for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who spent a large part of the event on their feet dancing.
“Say it loud,” Usher instructed.
“I’m black and I’m proud,” the guests responded, without prompting.
“Say it loud!”
“I’m black and I’m proud.”
Obama closed the evening by pointing to comedian Dave Chappelle, who sat in the audience with his wife.
“Dave, you have your own block party!” the president said. “This is my block party.”
Obama Nixes Twerking at Final White House Concert
President Barack Obama said he’s sad that one of his and the first lady’s favorite traditions, musical night at the White House, ended Friday (Oct. 21).
Obama described the ability to summon celebrities as “one of the perks of the job that I will most, along with Air Force One, and Marine One,” the presidential helicopter. “You know, if you can just call up Usher and say, ‘Hey, come on over …'”
Guests of President John F. Kennedy even did the “twist” in the East Room, “which may not sound like a big deal to you, but that was sort of the twerking of their time,” Obama told the star-studded audience of several hundred people, seated in an elaborate tent that was used earlier in the week for the Obamas’ final state dinner. “There will be no twerking tonight. At least not by me. I don’t know about Usher.”
Obama said the White House is the “People’s House,” so it makes sense that it reflect the diversity, imagination and ingenuity of the American people.
He said that, although much of the music being performed at Friday’s taping “is rooted in the African-American experience, it’s not just black music. It’s an essential part of the American experience.”
“It’s a mirror to who we are, and a reminder of who we can be,” Obama added. “That’s what American music’s all about.”
President Barack Obama hosted his Final White House Concert on Friday October 21, a concert in conjunction with BET Network entitled “Love and Happiness.”