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Jermaine Dupri Headshot

Let President-Elect Obama Stay in His Own Lane

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I hope our next president enjoyed his family vacation in Hawaii. I hope he slept in, caught some waves with his daughters, and partied like a rock star with his wife Michelle. Because as soon as this dude lands in Washington, it's ova!

Obama hasn't even been sworn in yet and he's being pushed and pulled in all the different directions everyone else thinks he's supposed to go. Everywhere I look people are trying to steer Obama one-way or the other. Usually, into whatever lane suits them best. And it isn't just the Republicans who are doing the complaining. If anything, they seem the most happy with Obama's decisions - maybe because they didn't expect much. It's his own party that's pulling the guy every which way, like some whacked out back seat driver. "Turn left! No! Go straight ahead! What are you doing?!? You were supposed to make a right! Go back!" Everybody thinks he owes them and they're hell bent on trying to collect.

Gay, black, brown, young, old, white, female, Democrat, Republican - everybody wants to create some traffic, cut him off and force him into their own lane. The feminists are pissed 'cause he didn't appoint more women to his cabinet. (Even though five of the top positions were given to women.) Some members of the civil rights old guard are back with, "Why aren't there more black people up there?" These are the same dudes who were mad he didn't turn his convention speech into a history lesson on Martin Luther King. If Obama had listened to them, he never would've gotten elected in the first place.

Who's next in line to bitch? Will cat lovers complain that the first family is only talking about adopting a dog and discriminating against felines? Will left-handed jugglers be upset that they're not represented? Why not appoint a few little people to the Cabinet while he's at it?

And now gay rights groups are mad because the pastor who's doing the inauguration doesn't support gay marriage.

For real??? The president wants Rick Warren because millions of people love him. He's giving respect to what the majority of the American people are into. Obama doesn't have to agree with everything the guy says just to have him up there on the podium. Why can't Obama have his moment however he wants it and with whoever the hell he chooses? I don't give a fuck if Big Foot swears him in. Y'all should let the man have his day.

We achieved what most people thought was impossible. We elected a young, hip, African-American visionary to be President of the United States. No funny business at the polling booths. No bloodbaths. No recounts. He energized the black community and brought everybody else on board at the same time. He brought out more young voters than anytime in history. He gave America a second chance in the world's eyes as a nation that can recognize its mistakes and make amends. He gave us back our sense of hope.

And Obama got us there HIS way. He created a political campaign like no other. People said what he did couldn't be done, but he kept on going. He didn't change lanes, he just kept it moving in the direction he knew was right.

I made a career out of finding my own lane, and helping artists do the same for themselves. From Kris Kross to Usher to Bow Wow, they became successes when they discovered their own unique style. Musically, our biggest hits came from listening to what everybody else was doin', then steering a lil' to the left or the right and creating our own movement. And the few times I didn't follow my own path; when I paid too much attention to my label bosses, or let anyone else override my best instincts, it jus' didn't work.

Obama's gonna listen to other people's opinions, and he should. But I hope the last voice he hears before he makes a decision is his own. Now, with the economy so messed up and Israel bombing the shit out of the Gaza Strip, and more than ten million people unemployed, the heat is really gonna be on. People change lanes when they get scared and lose direction, but Obama can't afford to do that, ever. He can't cave into the pressure. Not now.

Everyone has their pet projects but what everybody has to realize is that Barack Obama has a job to do that goes beyond the side hustles of the rest of the planet. He isn't going to be president to make one group happy. He's going to the White House to serve his country. And anyone who thought that he was gonna to be an ultra liberal activist president better get over it right now. He said himself he's gonna reach across the aisle and bring us together, not divide us, and that's what he's already doing. He's the bridge we've all been waiting for.

Obama is one slick dude. I'm not saying that in a bad way. I mean it as a compliment. It's what we need. He's a 21st century President. A man for our time. And I'm sure he knows that the world is watching, so whatever he does you can bet that he's doing what he believes in his heart is going to have the best results. He's not here to make you, me, Al Sharpton, or Tavis Smiley, or anybody else happy. He's here to serve our country and be the kind of leader we need in the baddest way.

So please, let Obama continue to stay in his lane. Let the man drive!


Jermaine Dupri, who was named the most successful R&B producer of all time by the Guinness World Records 2007, is a Grammy-award winning music producer, president of Island Urban Records and author of Young, Rich and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul (Atria, October 2007). For more information about this blogger, click here.