Obama tells MTV he wants more political music

President Obama lamented the dearth of political music these days in an MTV interview Friday afternoon.

"I'd like to see a more explicit discussion of the issues out there right now, because music is such a powerful mechanism," Obama told interviewer Sway Calloway. "You can set the world on fire in a positive way."

"We haven't seen as much directly political music" recently, he said, but "the most vibrant musical genre over the past 10 to 15 years has been hip-hop." He cited Bruce Springsteen, who has been campaigning for the president's reelection campaign, as an exception, along with The Roots. “There have been some folks that have kind of dabbled in political statements," he said. "But a lot of it has been more cultural than political." 

The president reminisced about listening to Bob Marley in college, "not agreeing with his whole philosophy necessarily but raising my awareness of how people outside our country were thinking about the struggle for jobs and dignity and freedom." He said his busy schedule had left him behind the times: "I've been working a little hard so I haven’t updated my iPod."

Calloway also pressed Obama on climate change, which did not come up in the presidential debates. The president talked about fuel efficiency and new technology, but not limits on carbon emissions. On gun control he emphasized background checks, better enforcement of existing laws and a focus on the root causes of violence — but not new legislation. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · October 26, 2012