This is exactly and precisely the kind of story that gets chewed up and spit out by the Buzzfeed content mill, seen and forgotten about a day later, and that's a shame because it's without exaggeration one of the most powerful hip-hop moments I've ever seen. So before you watch this video, let's give it the set up it deserves.
1. This week President Obama visited Vietnam, a country that just a few decades ago was mired in a war that resulted in the death of approximately one million Vietnamese and 60,000 American troops.
2. During a Town Hall style meeting a young Vietnamese woman, who identified herself as a rapper named Suboi, asked the President for his thoughts on how government should support the arts. Before answering the question, Obama challenged her to rap first, even offering to beatbox for her. Let's just pause right there and acknowledge that a sitting U.S. president...offered to beatbox...for someone.
3. If you thought Big Sean rapping for Kanye outside a radio station was pressure, if you thought J. Cole trying to rap for Jay Z on the sidewalk was pressure, imagine Obama challenging you to spit hot flames with your entire country watching. Seemingly completely unphased, she proceeds to kill it. And THEN, as if that wasn't enough, when asked about the content of her rhymes, she explained that she was rapping about the gap between material wealth and true happiness.
President Obama has embraced hip-hop as an agent of change and unification like no other president ever has - over the last few months alone everyone from J. Cole to Kendrick to Pusha T have made White House trips - and this video is proof that he's right. I don't care if it sounds corny, hip-hop has the power to bring people together across countries, cultures and languages. It can bridge gaps that might otherwise seem impossibly large - like between a young Vietnamese rapper and the leader of the free world - and it can empower voices that might otherwise go unheard.
I spend so much time knee deep in the business of hip-hop, it's crucial to pause and take moments like these to still hear the beating heart of a culture I love. It's bigger than hip-hop.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.