On Thursday, the rapper, 47, became the first-ever hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The father-to-be was not in attendance at the New York City ceremony, and instead, Chairman/CEO of Warner/Chappell Music Jon Platt accepted the award on Jay’s behalf.
The highlight of his induction had to be the video speech given by former president Barack Obama.
Obama spoke highly of his friend and “first ballot Hall of Famer” in the speech. “I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other. Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today,” he said.
“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,” the former commander-in-chief continued. “So we try to prop open those doors of opportunity so that it’s a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well.”
Obama also joked about the women in their lives.
“Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those twins show up,” he said about 5-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, adding: “And let’s face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”
Jay Z has had a profound influence on his fans, including Obama.
“Like all of you, I am a fan, and I’ve been listening to Jay since I was a young and hungry state senator. I sampled his lyrics to close my speech at Selma. I tweeted a reference to ‘My First Song’ as I was putting my finishing touches on my State of the Union address. I was brushing dirt off my shoulders during a campaign,” the 44th president recalled.
Even adding, “I’m pretty sure I’m the only president to listen to Jay Z’s music in the Oval Office. That may change at some point but I’m pretty sure it’s true now.”
On Thursday, Jay Z shared his acceptance speech and thanked many of his music friends on Twitter, writing: “Thank you to all the people that have inspired me.”
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His mother-in-law Tina Knowles Lawson shared on Instagram, “Congrats to my amazing son in law on this very prestigious award. Not only does he have 21 Grammys but now he’s being inducted into the songwriters Hall of Fame! … I am a proud mother in law.”
“To finally have somebody in this culture, this part of the game, this side recognized is long overdue. But I’m glad as hell. Jay Z started this shit,” said Chance the Rapper. “It’s just crazy to have it be…It makes sense that it would be him. Just being somebody that’s always been so vocal about publishing and owning your masters and making the kind of music that people want to sample. He was saying that 20 years ago.”
Minaj thanked Jay for paving the way for rappers: “Thank you for giving us the blueprint.”
Along with Jay Z, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Robert Lamm, James Pankow, Max Martin and Peter Cetera of “Chicago” were inducted as the class of 2017.