Since its inception over 50 years ago, Hip Hop has helped amplify the voices of Black America. From lyrics like “Double-digit inflation / Can't take the train to the job, there's a strike at the station” in Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s “The Message” to Kanye West saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” on live television after Hurricane Katrina, Hip Hop artists have either used music or their platforms for social and political advocacy.

Director and writer Jesse Washington teamed up with ESPN’s Andscape to create a documentary that explores the genre’s impact on politics and other socioeconomic issues in America from the early 1980s to present day. Hulu’s Hip Hop and the White House features cultural commentators and rap figures across various decades like KRS-One, Common, Roxanne Shanté, Bun B, CurrenSy, YG, Waka Flocka Flame and Chika. The film also showcases political figures like Congresswoman Maxine Waters as well as author and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras Baraka. The project is executive produced and narrated by Jeezy, who famously predicted the future when he recorded “My President'' five months before Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.

In an exclusive conversation with REVOLT, Washington discussed why he chose the Atlanta legend as the primary storyteller for this project. “Jeezy is the perfect narrator. He's really the only narrator because he's got the most impactful presidential song, in my opinion, of all time, of any genre: ‘My President is Black,’” Washington said. “This man dropped this before Barack Obama was elected. So, I mean, he was the only person who could do it.”

Washington first learned that Hip Hop could be a tool for social advocacy when Public Enemy released “Fight The Power” and “Welcome To The Terrordome.”

“When Chuck D said, ‘This is the CNN for the hood,’ I said, ‘Oh okay,’ I could get with that. I could be that,” the director recalled. His passion motivated him to develop Hip Hop and the White House, which was the first of Andscape’s &360 projects that aim to explore Black culture's impact on the United States. “I'm inspired by this culture that I've lived my whole life,” Washington told REVOLT. “I'm inspired by the power and the influence that we have politically at the highest level.”

Jeezy was also on the carpet at the documentary’s premiere to discuss what the film means for Hip Hop fans and the world. “It's just associated with so much negativity,” the Grammy-nominated artist said. “I want them to see how powerful our art form is when it’s used the right way and how it affects our country.”

The “Standing Ovation” rapper also joked about how his youth prepared him for his role as a narrator. “I was told in middle school the ladies liked my voice, so that helped,” he said. “A lot of the moments that were had in Hip Hop, I truly respected. And for [Washington] to have me narrate something so powerful — shout out to Jesse [Washington], you're a real guy. Because this is going to change lives.”

Tupac Shakur was one of the artists who showed the Atlanta-based lyricist how Hip Hop could speak truth to power. “That's the first time I saw it done to that level,” Jeezy told REVOLT. “Also, you know, a lot of what Public Enemy was doing at the time, N.W.A as well. Sometimes it can be the right message but the wrong messenger. So those guys were the right messengers with the right message.”

Jeezy certainly delivered the right message to Jordan Benston, who co-executive produced the film with her company, Oracle Media. When production started in May 2023, Benston made sure that Black crew members were present. “When you walked in the room, there were Black DPs, there were Black sound operators, there were Black PAs,” she said.

Benston's experience attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University helped her realize Hip Hop's impact on politics. “I was there from 2008 to 2012, [which] was [the] peak [of] Obama being elected in ’08 and [the] peak [of] Jeezy’s ‘My President is Black,’” she told REVOLT. “In that moment that a Hip Hop song meant so much to us and it was such a big thing, that was a part of the reason that drove us to the polls to elect Obama.”

Benston also discussed the importance of the documentary premiering in the year of a presidential election. “With celebrating Hip Hop 50 last year and then now, this year, to be able to draw the connection between Hip Hop and politics in such a big political year for the world. We all know in November, we [have] to pull up to the polls to elect a new president. So, the content is timely and it's something that people really need to see,” she expressed.

Bun B was also on the carpet at the documentary’s premiere. He told REVOLT why he signed onto the Andscape project. “I've always been a person who knew that their platform had power, and I've always tried to use it in the right way. Sometimes, with certain people, you can't really tell them. You have to show them and lead by example,” he stated. “Being a part of this project is part of that continued commitment to be a representative of the culture [in] spaces where we don't have much representation, so that when the next generation comes [after] me, they feel more comfortable in the space.”

The beloved Houston emcee and entrepreneur also witnessed Hip Hop’s impact during Obama’s presidency. “Seeing so many Hip Hop artists activating their communities, getting people engaged [and] participating, I think that's always a good thing to see. But we need to be more engaged on a local level, right? It's the small battles that help win the big war,” the icon shared.

After the screening, MSNBC’s Ari Melber moderated a panel with Washington, Benston and Jeezy, who shared his hopes for the film’s viewers. “I hope that this documentary inspires the next generation to know how powerful they really are. This is not just making music to make money -- it’s about impact,” he insisted.

Hip Hop and the White House is now streaming on Hulu.