Jay Z was not present at his induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame last night in New York City, for reasons unknown but potentially related to Beyoncé giving birth to her twins. Neither was Barack Obama. But the latter delivered a prerecorded message to mark the occasion, an especially significant one given that Jay Z is the first hip-hop artist to receive it. “I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other,” Obama said. “No one who met us as younger men would expect us to be where we are today. 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 that 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 also spoke about his and Jay Z’s families, sneaking in a laugh line about how Michelle and Beyoncé are the more beloved members of their respective pairs. “Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those two twins show up,” he added. “And, let’s face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.” He also joked that he’s ”pretty sure” he’s ”still the only president to listen to Jay Z’s music in the Oval Office.”
CEO of Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Jon Platt accepted the award on behalf of Jay Z, saying, per Variety, that “Jay Z accepts not just the benefits of his fame, but also the responsibilities of it. He understands what his work means to his millions of fans around the world just as much as he understands how important it is that he’s becoming the first rap artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. And he also knows that so many came before him that didn’t get this opportunity and didn’t receive this honor.” And, from wherever he was, Jay Z sent out some tweets thanking “all the people that have inspired” him.