Political Capital with John Harwood

Rock Obama: My Interview with Hip-Hop Star Will.i.am

Campaign Ad Sensation

The worlds of politics and pop culture have intersected for decades. In 1960, John F. Kennedy enhanced his aura of glamour by associating with Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack; later Marilyn Monroe famously sang to him, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”

But rarely have the two worlds fused as auspiciously for a candidate as they have for Barack Obama this spring.

The hip-hop star Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, acting on his own, set music to an Obama campaign speech. The result was the Yes We Can video that has gotten more than 13-million page views on the internet so far.

I traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend to interview Will about how the project came together. As this video link shows, it was a fascinating session. And Will isn’t done trying to help Obama yet.

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