If you really set the stage, or the podium, or the Twitterverse, on fire in 2013, there’s apparently only one way to celebrate: You drop the mic. This relatively new kind of celebration is everywhere. Earlier this month Mindy Kaling dropped the mic at a rap battle on The Mindy Project, and just last weekend people used mic drops to Tweet about everything from the Inauguration to the Sundance Film Festival. So who popularized the mic drop?
Barack Obama. The mic drop has been employed by rappers and comedians since at least the 1980s, and it’s grown steadily in popularity since 2007, but it’s only in the last year or so that it’s become a full-blown meme throughout American culture. And no single person has been associated with the mic drop more frequently than the president.
Obama didn’t create this association by himself. To kick off 2012, arguably the year of the mic drop, Key & Peele ran a sketch in which the president (played as always by Jordan Peele) wins a rap battle by jumping on the mic and declaring matter-of-factly, “I’m the leader of the free world.” Afterward he holds the mic out, drops it, and drives away.
In April, the leader of the free world dropped the mic himself. In an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Obama “Slow Jammed the News” with the Roots to deliver a message about student loans. After finishing his discourse about Pell Grants, the president (rather shyly) dropped the mic, and Fallon followed his lead. The YouTube video of the segment got millions of views, and Obama’s mic drop was singled out for attention. Google Trends shows that more people started wondering about the “mic drop” after that performance than ever before.
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