Sean “Diddy” Combs is all about the politics these days.
As the media continues its inundation of coverage on the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls vying for their party’s 2016 nomination, the hip-hop mogul is directing his attention towards President Obama’s performance over the course of his tenure.
Combs visited New York radio station HOT 97 for an appearance on the “Ebro in the Morning Show” on Nov. 4 where he discussed his thoughts after being asked about his recent comments on the voting process.
Combs grabbed headlines at the Revolt Music Conference in October when he told a young woman seeking advice on how to get her voice heard in the upcoming election that the entire voting process was a scam.
During the radio interview, he explained his comments, citing unfulfilled hopes in the Obama administration.
“We got people to vote,” said Combs referring to his Vote or Die campaign that influenced millions of young people and minorities to vote for Obama. “We planted the seed that got Obama in office. That’s something I’m very proud of, but I’m talking about, overall, the give-back. We got Obama into office– the give-back, the deal–where are the things in our community that have gotten drastically better?”
The producer feels that the investment of the Black community has not been returned by Obama as it is customary for the president to do for his supporters. Regardless of whether there appears to be a bias, Combs believes that President Obama should have openly done more to assist the Black community.
“The hugest group of people that get you into office, you have to change their lives for the better. Pick a side, because they got you into office. And if that side just happens to be Black people, and you’re Black, you still have to do what’s fair,” he said.
The fear of being perceived as bias towards African-Americans has been speculated as the reason for Obama’s restraint in addressing Black social and economic problems. For Obama, speaking vaguely on social justice issues and foregoing programs targeted to Black Americans was likely an attempt to perpetuate an idea of being fair and balanced in the face of an increasingly racially divided country over the treatment of Black citizens that is anything but fair and balanced.
But that course of action feels misguided. It has long been understood in politics that candidates set to work on meeting the requests of the supporters who worked hard to get them into office, so it’s unlikely that many people would have faulted President Obama for doing what was expected of his job.
Combs passionately insists that President Obama makes up for lost time by repaying Black America for getting him elected before leaving office next year.
“The Black community got President Obama in office and there just should be some nice parting gifts to give our youth–our future–a better chance,” he declared.
The way to do this, Combs said, is by “unapologetically sending direct aid to Black communities.” He elaborated on his recommendation saying, “Let’s not try to hide it. Unapologetically spend billions of dollars to uplift Black communities, and say [the words] ‘Black people.’ Yes, Black people need help. This is what were doing. Let’s stop skirting around everything it is.”
While Combs understands that being president is a hard job and assures that there are “many things” President Obama has done for the American people that will create an impact years later, he feels it’s not enough to simply include Black people as a part of the collective beneficiary of general plans and programs.
He demands that the aid is sent explicitly for the assistance of the Black community, comparing it to the aid America sends to specific foreign countries in the midst of crisis or natural disaster.
“We want to know that it was for us. Come and help us with this problem just like if it was a disaster in Chile. The Black community is at a state of emergency, so it should be treated just like that. It should be treated like there’s helicopters coming with education and books and trade and coming with things for the psyche.”
The rapper said that he isn’t coming after President Obama but felt compelled to be honest about his feelings regarding the upcoming election, given that his Vote or Die campaign influenced millions of voters to get involved. Faced with the question from a young Black voter about how to get her voice heard in politics, Combs felt at odds with urging people to invest in the political system when the candidate he felt was most likely to address the issues important to him and the Black community didn’t live up to those expectations.
He makes it clear, however, that his intention is not to sway young voters to disengage from the political process but instead to encourage them to think carefully before supporting a candidate without assurances that the issues pertinent to them will be adequately and directly addressed.
“Pay attention a little bit more on how we’re going to cut this deal this time because we’re not going to be going to the polls and voting without a pre-cut deal,” Combs said. He insists that “everybody else cuts their deal” but the items for change enumerated by the Black community get overlooked. “We have our list and our list just gets lost,” he laments.
Combs doesn’t feel that the fault rests with the president alone. Black Americans, who Combs feels “let it go down,” bare some of the responsibility. He points out that other groups such as the National Rifle Association, American Association of Retired Persons, and the Jewish people lobby hard for their interests within the government.
Though Combs’ recommendations may seem grand and his point of view passionate, he never comes across as pretentious, harsh, or overly critical in the HOT 97 interview. The musician appears as someone deeply concerned about the state of the Black community who felt genuinely let down by a president he put his faith in. While he is vocal about his feelings, Combs steers clear of focusing on the flaws of Obama’s presidency and takes a platform that is solution-based, even telling the radio hosts that he will continue to think of ways to get the results that he and the Black community are looking for.
Combs’ comments throughout the interview are reflective of what he calls his shift from “me to we.” Further, they underscore the broader need for the Black community to create a unified agenda based around thoughtful solutions, and to lobby passionately for their interests, especially after politicians take office.