WASHINGTON (AP) — John Legend believes hip-hop played its part in helping Barack Obama become president, and he’s proud at how the genre has matured over the years.
“I think hip-hop had a role in making sure we elected a black president in America because we made it so that black people were in people’s homes … through our music and through our culture,” the R&B crooner said Sunday night at the Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball.
“I think it made Barack Obama and more people like him possible, so I’m really thankful for hip-hop and the role it plays in society,” he continued.
Legend was awarded the humanitarian award at Sunday’s event, and it was one of many honors handed out at the Harman Center for Arts.
Hip-hop pioneers MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh were both given lifetime achievement awards. Fresh even hit the stage, beat boxing while comedian-actor-singer Wayne Brady cooed Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” At one point, Brady even busted out his own rhymes.
Rapper Yo Yo earned a roaring cheer when she hit the stage to honor MC Lyte; Lil Mama also paid tribute to the “Ruffneck” rapper.
2 Chainz, who had a breakthrough year with his Grammy-nominated solo debut and multiple rap hits, earned the street soldier award for encouraging young voters as a spokesperson for the Hip-Hop Caucus’ “Respect My Vote!” campaign.
“Doing my thing on the charts is one thing, but to be getting honored on another avenue, it just feels like a blessing,” he said in an interview. “I’m keeping my head leveled and staying humble.”
Actress Rosario Dawson won the vanguard award for her work as chairman of the Voto Latino organization.
“It’s time to step out of the shadows. It’s time to not just be talked about by other people, it’s time to take the leadership ourselves and that first step of leadership is voting,” Dawson said of the importance of the Latino vote.
Rappers Swizz Beatz and Meek Mill also earned honors at the event, attended by a few hundred hip-hop fans, including model Tyson Beckford, former NBA star Dikembe Mutumbo and Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. La La Anthony and Terrence J hosted the ball.
British singer Marsha Ambrosius also delivered a rousing performance, and playful jokes about Obama.
“I got a call from the president and he asked me to perform his favorite song,” she said before singing the R&B jam “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player).”
Then she sang “Butterflies,” a song she co-wrote for Michael Jackson’s 2001 “Invincible” album.
“This might have been his favorite,” she said.
Happy Birthday, Barack Obama!
1. Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii.Source:Photo: AP 1 of 29
2. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was an American anthropologist, activist and social scientist born in Kansas in 1942. She passed away in 1995. (Photo: AP)2 of 29
3. His father, Barack Obama, Sr. was from Kenya. His parents met while studying at the University of Hawaii and got married on Feb. 2, 1961 and baby Barack was born six months later. (Photo: AP)3 of 29
4. His parents eventually separated and divorced when Barack was two. His father returned to Kenya and his mother married a man from Indonesia. They moved to Indonesia a year later. (Photo: AP)4 of 29
5. At age 10, Barack was sent to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His mom and sister soon followed. (Photo: AP)5 of 29
6. Barack attended the esteemed Punahou Academy where he excelled and graduated with academic honors in 1979. (Photo: AP)6 of 29
7. He played basketball on one of the best high school teams in Hawaii. His nickname was "O'Bomber" because of his mad skills. (Photo: AP)7 of 29
8. After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science. (Photo: AP)8 of 29
9. Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked on the South Side as a community organizer for low-income residents in the Roseland and the Altgeld Gardens communities. (Photo: AP)9 of 29
10. Barack visited relatives in Kenya, which included an emotional visit to the graves of his biological father and paternal grandfather. (Photo: AP)10 of 29
11. Obama returned from Kenya with a sense of renewal, entering Harvard Law School in 1988.11 of 29
12. The next year, he met Michelle Robinson, an associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. She was assigned to be Obama's adviser during a summer internship at the firm, and not long after, the couple began dating.12 of 29
13. Their first kiss took place outside of a Chicago shopping center—where a plaque featuring a photo of the couple kissing was installed more than two decades later, in August 2012. (Photo: AP)13 of 29
14. In February 1990, Obama was elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated from Harvard, magna cum laude, in 1991.14 of 29
15. After law school, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer, joining the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught part time at the University of Chicago Law School, first as a lecturer and then as a professor—and helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. (Photo: AP)15 of 29
16. On October 3, 1992, he and Michelle were married. They moved to Kenwood, on Chicago's South Side. (Photo: AP)16 of 29
17. Obama's advocacy work led him to run for a seat in the Illinois State Senate. He ran as a Democrat, and won election in 1996. During these years, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans to draft legislation on ethics, and expand health care services and early childhood education programs for the poor. (Photo: AP)17 of 29
18. After around six years of marriage, Barack and Michelle welcomed daughter Malia born in 1998 and daughter Sasha born in 2001. (Photo: AP)18 of 29
19. November 2 2004, the Obama family is covered in confetti after Obama delivered his acceptance speech. With his win, Barack Obama became only the third African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since the Reconstruction. (Photo: AP)19 of 29
20. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee John McCain, 52.9 percent to 45.7 percent, winning election as the 44th president of the United States—and the first African-American to hold this office. (Photo: AP)20 of 29
21. 2008 newly elected President Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech at Grant Park in Chicago and the Obama family takes stage and waves to all his supporters. (Photo: AP)21 of 29
22. President Barack Obama's inauguration took place on January 20, 2009. President Obama joined by Michelle, takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the U.S.(Photo: AP)22 of 29
23. President Barack Obama and his family and Vice President Joe Biden and his family celebrate their nominations as the confetti falls at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo)23 of 29
24. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden ran for a second term against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. (Photo: AP)24 of 29
25. The president rolled to a second term over Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes. President Obama told supporters "the best is yet to come." (Photo: AP)25 of 29
26. Barack got a little greyer after a few years in the White House.26 of 29
27. Barack's official portrait for his second term as President of the United States of America.27 of 29
28. Barack and Michelle walked off into the sunset after 8 years in the White House.28 of 29
29. We miss you President Obama, but it seems you're happy to be back to private life.29 of 29