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Q-Tip Teams Up with the White House to Shout Out Student Poets

The winning students perform their work in front of Q-Tip and FLOTUS Michelle Obama.

by Ben Adams

First Lady Michelle Obama will join Q-Tip on Thursday to commend five student poets that have demonstrated remarkable artistic talent. The two will honor the fifth annual class of the National Student Poets Program.

The five 10th and 11th grader winners will receive the nation's highest honor for poetry in their age group at the White House. All students have shown excellence in the command of composition, rubric and delivery. Q-Tip has been chosen to fulfill his role as The Kennedy Center’s Artistic Director for Hip-Hop Culture.

Q-Tip's own poetry and rhyming ability, as one-third of the trio A Tribe Called Quest, has inspired conscious hip hop fans since their inception. “At that point in the mid-1980s, hip-hop promoted a narrow vision of blackness marked by bravado, machismo, egocentrism and, for most, a bodacious New Yorkness,”wrote TOURÉ for the New York Times.

“I looked at hip-hop and wondered where I fit in. Until A Tribe Called Quest arrived on the scene.” Tribe's written lyrics provided another level of maturity and intellectualism to the world of hip hop- and often blurred the lines between hip hop and poetry. Michelle Obama herself is a fan of Q-Tip, adding a track featuring Q-Tip on her playlist on Spotify last year.

Q-Tip has backed Barack Obama since the beginning. “Untold millions are unable to pay their mortgages and afford the cost of gas, the emcee wrote in a detailed 2008 letter. “Global warming and its effects are spreading at an unchecked pace, and special interests have frozen the nation’s governance into inaction. Given this disturbing climate at home and abroad, it is imperative that we break out of old habits and politics as usual. It is time we endorse real change.”

“This is why I endorse Senator Barack Obama for President.”

The recent death of beloved Tribe member Phife Dawg hasn't deterred Q-Tip's passion for poetic beauty. Given his ability to rhyme and his long list of artists that he's produced for, from Beyoncé to Mariah Carey, Q-Tip is perfect to fulfill his role.

Each year five notable selections are chosen from students representing five geographic regions. Each one will get the rare opportunity to have an audience with both the FLOTUS and a hip hop legend.

The five student honorees are the following:

Stella Binion from Chicago, IL (Midwest)

Maya Eashwaran from Alpharetta, GA (Southeast)

Gopal Raman from Dallas, TX (Southwest)

Joey Reisberg from Towson, MD (Northeast)

Maya Salameh from San Diego, CA (West)


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Benjamin Adams is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a slew of publications including CULTURE, Cannabis Now Magazine and The 420 Book and Vice. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenBot11 and Facebook @byBenBot.



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