The XX Factor

Michelle Obama’s College Rap Schools Rivals in First Lady PSA Battle

What did we do to deserve this first/best lady?


Michelle Obama hasn’t had to work too hard to defend her title as the raddest lady ever to call the White House home. But in case there was any doubt, Obama dropped a superb rap collab with Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah this morning, making the case for college to U.S. young’uns.

Obama somehow manages to be both adorably awkward (she’s rapping about career opportunities in a wrap dress, after all) and a legitimately decent rapper. No surprise there: She’s proven time and again that she’s got dancing chops that far surpass her husband’s, with hip-thrusting rhythm and stamina that just won’t quit.

But even if Obama had stumbled through her lines with a plastic smile and all the comic timing of Mitt Romney making a joke about airplane windows, her PSA would still be light-years closer to actual cool than any of the other first ladies’. Here are her closest competitors.

Barbara Bush

Bush’s actual entreaty isn’t all too exciting. “When a good TV show makes you want to find out more, find it in a book,” she advises. “TV and books work together to really take you places.” But the graphics (a White House blasting off into space!) and wardrobe (big ‘80s glasses!) in this one make it worth a watch.

Nancy Reagan

Somber Nancy Reagan roped Somber Clint Eastwood into one of her famous anti-drug ads. It’s full of quotables—“the thrill can kill”; “say yes to life”—and Eastwood shames viewers into doing what she says. “If you go ahead and try [drugs], at least it won’t be out of ignorance. Just stupidity,” he says.

Hillary Clinton

This video starts like every good PSA: with a middle-aged Midwestern woman in a relaxed-fit Henley missing out on some friendly fun because her husband needs a colonoscopy. Clinton’s wooden speech at the end is handily overshadowed by the concerned jacket-flipper who “doesn’t have the time” to get screened for colon cancer. A solid ensemble performance overall.