Whether it’s here at BET.com or somewhere else on the Web, editors spend the last month of each year trying to paint a picture of what the year was all about for their readers or viewers.
For the most part, 2008 has been Barack Obama’s year, a year that brought the kind of change most people never dreamed would happen in their lifetimes. But one Unlikely magazine feels the real victor this year has been Hillary Clinton.
KING Magazine, theHip Hop-flavored, self-proclaimed "Illest Magazine Ever," has voted former Democratic front-runner and soon to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as its “Person of the Year”, over Barack Obama and a number of other hopefuls.
Citing a variety of factors, from Hillary pressing the minority community to go out and vote early on, her health care proposals, her leadership as a woman and her ability to hold her own in the political battle of her life, KING, a magazine with a huge African American and hip hop-oriented readership, feels that Hilary was the hardest working person in politics this year. Are they right? Are they wrong? More importantly, how could they have come to this conclusion in the middle of the 24/7 “Obama Watch” we’ve all been living through since November?
A recent episode of The O’Reilly Factor featured an interview with 50 Cent where he pledged his support for Hillary Clinton, stating that: “I’m not sure that American’s ready to have a Black president. I think they might kill him.” Timbaland, Magic Johnson, LL Cool J and a host of old black politicians including New York’s congresspersons Edolphus Towns and Gregory Meeks endorsed Hilary before the Obama train ever proved to be the little engine that could. And why not? She was an established senator married to a two-term Democratic president who seemed to have it more together than anyone else on the block. Obama, much like your favorite rookie player on a so-so team, was the guy we wanted to go the distance, but knew too much about history and the culture within this country to ever see it as possible.
Still, it’s telling just how much things have changed in the past decade that KING would even have the guts to take hold of this position. Given the staunchly liberal, pro-minority view associated with the hip hop community, an editorial board’s decision to make this kind of a call says a lot about the changes in climate and demographics climate within hip hop listenership over the past decade. For those of us who can remember the late 80s and early 90s, someone like Sen. Clinton could be easily be associated with the persecution artists like Luther Campbell, 2pac and Ice-T had to deal with at the hands of Democrats like Tipper Gore and even President Clinton himself. There were even a few times where she played some serious race cards in the heat of her battle with Obama for the Democratic nomination.
Another argument is that Sen. Clinton was to be the final product of a women’s rights movement that predated the Emancipation Proclamation in this country. The idea was that since women have been fighting for an equal piece of the political pie for longer than Blacks have for equality and personal freedom. Obama somehow managed to jump the line by winning. This was all supposed to be Hilary’s show and “The Black guy” got in the way.
Personally, I can’t say that I take any kind of offense to KING’s decision, as I obviously understand the many factors it’s rooted in. But it says a lot about the magazine’s expectations from its own readership and the generational shift that’s happening in Hip Hop culture. As the music itself has taken far less fire than the criminal escapades of its performers, the hip hop community as a “nation” has become a thing of the past. The culture is diverse enough where all opinions are allowed and embraced without criticism.
We have different sets of heroes and we stand by them as people, as crews and as individual communities. But there’s no longer one flag for us all to pledge allegiance to, not in terms of audio, visuals or the way we see the brave but scary new world, our new president is walking us into.
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