Rapper Jay Z got a presidential welcome into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday from former President Obama, a self-proclaimed fan of the Brooklyn emcee.
Thing is, Hova wasn’t there in person to be inducted, further fueling speculation that his wife, Beyoncé, had given birth to their twins. More on that here.
The 47-year-old mogul, born Shawn Carter, is the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the hall, which nominates artists who have written hit songs for at least 20 years.
The ceremony in Manhattan honored Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, producer Max Martin, Motown founder Berry Gordy, songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Chicago members James Pankow and Robert Lamm. Relative newcomers Ed Sheeran and Pitbull were honored with the Hal David Starlight Award and Global Ambassador Award, respectively. They performed along with Jon Bon Jovi, Train’s Pat Monahan, Usher and New Edition’s Johnny Gill.
But it was No. 44, via video, who stole the show with praise for Jay.
“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,” Obama said in a clip presenting the rapper. “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 we did. And 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.”
The former president’s next tip of the hat to Jay Z’s family led many to believe that the “Holy Grail” lyricist and Beyoncé had baby girls.
“Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those two twins show up. And, let’s face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”
Obama also recounted times he sampled from the rapper in speeches and listened to him while on the job: “I’m pretty sure I’m the only president to listen to Jay Z’s music in the Oval Office,” he said, praising the performer for being an inspiring, true American original.
Jay Z reportedly canceled on the event at the last minute. However, when it was announced in February that he would join the ranks of songwriting heavyweights, he called it “a win for US.”
“I remember when rap was said to be a fad,” he tweeted at the time. “We are now alongside some of the greatest writers in history.”
Incidentally, the adulation prompted the rapper to blast off a series of tweets thanking Obama and others. (Jay, who joined Twitter in 2008, claimed he wasn’t drunk — just new to actively using the app — though some contend he could be sleep deprived from twin-town).
“Thank you to all the people that have inspired me,” he tweeted before listing everyone he seemingly could think of from Tupac Shakur to Kendrick Lamar and adding, “salute to anybody who made a song to feed their family or just vent.”