Barack Obama has a special place in his heart for JAY-Z’s “My 1st Song” — a single from the rapper’s highly-praised Black Album. The former president previously expressed his love for the the track, but during a recent Q&A session, he revealed that the song is actually one of his favorite Hov records.
Obama allowed fans to send him questions to answer on “Renegades: Born in the USA” — his Spotify-exclusive podcast with Bruce Springsteen. Amid the many inquiries was a question from Complex, who asked him whether there were any rap verses that he could recite verbatim. In response, he brought up “My 1st Song” then proceeded to explain his special relationship with the record.
“I’ve mentioned a couple of songs that even when I was running for president came up a lot on my iPod. One of them was ‘My 1st Song’ by JAY-Z, which is a song that I love because it talks about the struggle of just trying to make it,” Obama said. “And sometimes you have to resort to false bravado and hustle and tamping down your insecurities, and when I was running for president, obviously, at that point I didn’t know whether I was gonna make it.”
“There’s a line in there, ‘Treat my first as my last and my last as my first and my thirst is the same as when I came,’” he continued. “And I actually kept on listening to that song during the presidency because it was a reminder that — even when you do make it — having a little bit of that sense of still being hungry, still having to work hard, still having to prove something, that’s what keeps propelling you forward.”
Aside from his attachment to Hov’s 2003 song, Obama also has a connection with JAY, one he discussed when he congratulated the Brooklyn entrepreneur for his 2017 induction to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other. Nobody who met us when we were younger men would have expected us to be where we are today,” he said at the time. “We know what it’s like not to have a father around. We know what it’s like not to come from much and to know people who didn’t get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open the door of opportunity so that it’s a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well.”