When Michelle Obama launched her signature initiative, the Let’s Move! campaign, during her first term as First Lady, it was none other than Beyoncé who recorded a song and filmed a music video to help her promote it. The good old days.
It was announced Tuesday that Michelle is “releasing” an album to promote her Let’s Move! campaign. And none other than…Monifah is taking part. And Doug E. Fresh. And Ashanti. Not only is there no Beyoncé, but there’s no artist even approaching the A-list level we’ve come to expect from the Obamas’ music initiatives—Aretha Franklin performing the National Anthem, Paul McCartney playing at the White House, Alicia Keys belting “Obama’s on Fire” at the Inaugural Ball—on the album’s track list. In fact, the level of talent is kind of embarrassing.
Mrs. Obama “releasing” an album is a bit misleading. The right word is “curating” or “sponsoring” the album. Called Songs for a Healthier America, the album features 19 songs by a range of hip-hop and R&B artists. Some of the artists you’ve never heard of: Los Barkers, The Happiness Club, Babi Floyd. Some of the artists you’ve heard of…like, years ago: Jordin Sparks, Ashanti, Run DMC.
In addition to spearheading the Let’s Move! campaign the record is supporting, Obama will appear in ten of its music videos. Sadly, she won’t be singing.
It’s a noble release, of course. It will be distributed to students at schools in New York City and other major cities with the goal of inspiring them to live healthier lifestyles and, at the very least, get up and move to the music.
But there’s a scene in the HBO comedy Veep, in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a frazzled, power-hungry vice-president, is told that the president would like her to head an anti-obesity initiative and she is mortified because she thinks no one will take her seriously. The track list for Obama’s album is a hint at why she may think that.
There’s a song titled “U R What You Eat.” The artist attributed to that song is “Salad Bar.” “Salad Bar” is a name given to the unlikely trio of rapper Matisyahu, Disney star Ariana Grande, and former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
There’s also a song called “Veggie Luv.” “Veggie Luv” is performed by a person named Monfiah. “Veggie Luv” is not to be confused with a track that appears later in the album. It is called “We Like Vegetables.” Presumably, that song is more measured in its praise of lettuce.
Elsewhere on the album, DMC is responsible for a track called “Hip Hop FEET.” Yes, “FEET” is supposed to be entirely capitalized, as is the last word in Artie Green’s contribution, “Hip Hop LEAN.” New York Knick Iman Schumpert will rap the track “Pass the Rock.” This is a hip-hop album, but we’re going to have to assume the “rock” is not crack cocaine.Yes, as the saying goes, "When you assume you make an ass…"—well you know the rest. But still.
All this is to say that Michelle Obama’s upcoming hip-hop album seems absolutely ridiculous. It will be released next month. We can't wait.