Jay Z, whose wife Beyonce is expecting twins soon, was absent from the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he was inducted by a charismatic longtime fan: former President Barack Obama.
Obama, appearing in a taped video, told the audience Thursday that he's been listening to Jay Z since he was a "young and hungry state senator" and compared himself to the New York rapper.
"Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today. You know what it's like not to have a father around, you know what it's like not to come from much, and to know people who didn't get the same breaks that we did. 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," Obama said, earning an applause from the audience in New York City.
"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," he added.
Jay Z became the first rapper inducted into the prestigious organization and was the first hip-hop act nominated for the honor. The icon, who rarely tweets, posted multiple messages on Twitter around the time the ceremony took place, naming rappers who he admires, from veterans like Rakim and Nas to contemporaries such as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
"Thank you to all the people that have inspired me," Jay Z, born Shawn Carter, tweeted. "Salute to anybody who made a song to feed their family or just vent."
The 2017 Songwriters Hall class also included Motown founder Berry Gordy; R&B maestro Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds; songwriting duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis; pop music great Max Martin; and members of Chicago.
Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years.
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