Presidents are known for a lot of things, but a passion for music isn’t necessarily one of them. Perhaps that needs to change because, between Jimmy Carter singing with Willie Nelson and President Obama’s recent appearance in Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam, it’s starting to look like several presidents might have missed their musical calling.
President Obama was doing a town-hall style event in Ho Chi Ming City where he took questions from audience members. One of the participants, a young woman, told the President she was a rapper before asking her question. Obama asked her to do a short few bars and gave her a beat-box rhythm. “Do you need a little beat?” “Go ahead, c’mon,” he said encouraging the young woman. The woman asked if he wanted the song in English or Vietnamese and he replied “In Vietnamese, of course, but I won’t know what it means.”
The woman performed a few bars earning applause and cheers from the roughly 800 people in the crowd. Once she was finished she explained that the song was about materialism and rich people with big houses who were miserable. It was a fitting song to play for a president who has spent a large part of his term working to address income inequality and other wealth-related issues during his two terms.
The young performer turned out to be Hàng Lâm Trang Anh. The 26-year-old artist goes by the stage name of Suboi and is considered, by some, to be Vietnam’s queen of hip-hop.
The young artist’s question relating to art and the importance of it prompted the President to briefly touch on the way art helps bring people together.
‘Music, poetry, representations of life as it is and how it should be — those are the things that inspire people. And if I listen to a Vietnamese rap and it connects to the things I’m feeling, now I feel closer to a country on the other side of the world.’
In addition to an impromptu rap performance, Obama answered several questions relating to the state of American politics and the world in general. One of the questions was about the American electoral system and prompted the President to give the following answer in reassurance.
‘The American people are generous, and decent, and hardworking, and sometimes our politics doesn’t express all the goodness of the people, but usually the voters make good decisions and democracy works, so I’m optimistic we’ll get through this period.’
A video of the performance can be seen below.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.