On Thursday night, Jay Z became the first rapper or hip hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in a 2017 class that also included Motown founder Berry Gordy, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Robert Lamm and James Pankow of the group Chicago, and the reclusive earworm mastermind Max Martin, who wrote or cowrote a list of hits that includes the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," Britney Spears' "...One More Time," The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face," and Justin Timberlake's "Cant' Stop the Feeling!"
Jay Z (Shawn Carter) was not at the ceremony, apparently because his wife, Beyoncé, is expected to give birth to twins any day now, but he tweeted out his thanks to all the people who influenced him — including the man who introduced his award, "the greatest rapper of all time OBAMA. Thank you 44."
"I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other," former President Barack Obama said in his videotaped introduction. "Nobody who met us when we were 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 professed himself a fan who's been "listening to Jay since I was a young and hungry state senator."
He also threw in a little bit of self-deprecating humor, saying at one point, "Let's face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are," and an apparent dig at Jay Z's failed retirement: "You are inspiring in making me want to be active in my retirement, just like you have been in yours." Obama also threw a little shade at this successor, saying, "I'm pretty sure I'm still the only president to listen to Jay Z's music in the Oval Office — that may change at some point, but I'm pretty sure that's true now." Which, honestly, is a pretty good bet.