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Rapper Jay-Z spices a well-known lyric with a bit of 'Mitt'

November 05, 2012|By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey
  • Jay-Z performs before President Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay-Z performs before President Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Columbus,… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)

The Obamapalooza concert tour hit the Ohio college town (and capital) of Columbus on Monday afternoon with rapper Jay-Z politicizing his lyrics before making a pitch for a big turnout at the polls.

Jay-Z modified one of his most popular lyrics, “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one,” transforming it into “I got 99 problems but Mitt ain’t one.” As he talked, the rapper discovered that he was preaching to the choir — a show of hands revealed that most of the audience had already voted.

“Then what am I doing up here?” he asked.

Campaign organizers weren’t worried that most of the crowd had already cast ballots. Obama and his traveling band of musicians are trying to generate excitement and a sense of urgency across the state.

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Having Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in tow all day hasn’t hurt, as Obama tries to persuade local television stations and networks to broadcast more than just a few snippets from his usual stump speech. When he took the stage to give that speech in Columbus, the president started off by praising the two artists at his side. It was an “incredible honor” to have Springsteen and Jay-Z on the same bill, Obama said, and not just because he’s a fan of both artists.

“It’s also because both of them tell an American story,” Obama said. “They tell the story of what our country is and what it can be, and what we need to fight for.”

In “99 Problems,” Jay-Z talks about growing up with holes in his shoes and being targeted unfairly by police.

Obama didn’t dwell on the specifics expressed in the lyric “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.”

Instead, Obama went with a sentiment that women — no small target audience for him — might find more relatable.

He said he has something important in common with Jay-Z, who is married to the recording artist Beyonce Knowles.

“Both of us have wives who are more popular than we are,” the president said.

PHOTOS: President Obama’s past

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

Twitter: @cparsons

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey

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