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The Michelle Obama Podcast: The First Lady in Conversation with her Brother



By Features Desk



Thursday, August 20, 2020.


Spotify and Higher Ground Productions bring us the latest episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, featuring her brother, Craig Robinson. 


In this episode, the former First Lady sits down for an intimate conversation with her brother Craig; they converse about their sibling relationships and their strong family bond. Throughout the episode, Michelle and Craig look back on fond memories of their childhood, discuss how their relationship has evolved in adulthood - including who the favorite child is in their family (Spoiler Alert: It’s Craig), the hijinx they got into as children, the important role music played in their upbringing, and Craig’s first impressions of his sister’s then boyfriend - President Barack Obama. 




Craig Robinson: Music on Euclid

Michelle Obama: When I think of Euclid, when I think of our childhood, I think of music. Music was the backdrop of everything. We didn't do anything without music, and that's because our father, was a big jazz lover, and had a huge jazz uh, album collection, that he, that he cherished and our maternal grandfather, Southside, was a big music enthusiast. And he had, he had a wall full of jazz albums. 


Craig Robinson: I remember, both of those homes, Southside's home and our home where you walk in, and dad's got a record playing. And it could've been Dizzy Gillespie, or Miles Davis, or, 


Michelle Obama: Thelonius Monk, was one of his, we thought that was some made-up name. 


Craig Robinson: Thelonius Monk, was one of his, favorites, yeah, we did. [laughs] 


Michelle Obama: Thelonius Monk, it's like really? Dad, is that really his name? Who did that? Who did that to that man. 


Michelle Obama: The thing I liked about them, is that they, they didn't treat their albums and music as, you can't touch these, you just little kids, you, we were taught how to use, a record player properly, remember, you had to learn how to take the, the album out of the vinyl, and you couldn't touch the side, you couldn't put your fingerprints on it, 


Craig Robinson: Yeah, fingers on the, 


Michelle Obama: You had to hold the rim like it was a precious disc, and you'd just blow on it, you know to clean it, [poof] just a light blow, you couldn't spit on it, you know, it was a light blow. Then you'd lay it on the turn table, put it on the first song, and let it play. You know, and we, used to like a certain song on an album, you tried to put it in that little groove, and you'd always get in trouble, because you, 


Craig Robinson: Because it would go, werrrr! yes, right 


Michelle Obama: Or you'd scratch it, you know, but we were still allowed to figure it out, you know, it was, there was nev, never any hands off, so we had our own albums, and played our own music, and one of my favorites was the Jackson 5, 


Michelle Obama: Stop the love you say, and ABC, on the B side, that was that little record, on our, yeah, on our little bitty, little makeshift, record player 


Craig Robinson: Mm hmm, Yes, 45, Record player, 

Michelle Obama: It wasn't the stereo system, but it was the thing you plugged in, and you could put the disc, in the 45, to play it, mm hmm. 


Craig Robinson: So you could play it, yeah, 


Michelle Obama: Mm hmm, but we used to love playing the Jackson 5 


Craig Robinson: [sings] Stop the love you say baby, 


Michelle Obama: [sings] Darling take it slow, 


Both: [sings] Or someday you'll be all alone, 


Craig Robinson: Mom and Dad's Cigarettes


Craig Robinson: I remember you saying I've got a good idea, [laughs]

Michelle Obama: [laughs]

Craig Robinson: We can't get mom and dad to stop smoking, let's break all their cigarettes!

Michelle Obama: It's like, sounded like a good plan!

Craig Robinson: And it sounded like a great idea.

Michelle Obama: Well that was after a couple of other attempts, we tried to dip their, remember we took the tips of the cigarettes and dipped 'em in hot sauce, and lemon juice, thinkin' that that would [laughs]


Craig Robinson: Dipped 'em in, in lemon juice, and then put hot sauce on it, that that would turn them off,


Michelle Obama: That that would turn them, that they would've notice, that their cigarettes were damp, [laughs] that they would just think, oooh, cigarette butts are hot, you know maybe I should cut this out, you know, [laughs]


Craig Robinson: And I, I remember, distinctly, dad putting one in his mouth, and going, there's something wrong with these filters, [laughs]


Michelle Obama: And it didn't work. So I guess we figured after we dipped them, dipped the tips in lemon juice and hot sauce, then, what was left, but to just crush them, into, into teeny pieces,


Craig Robinson: Just destroy ‘em,


Michelle Obama: So who actually did the crushing, I don't remember,


Craig Robinson: No we both did, I remember, because there was, there were like two cartons underneath the sink, and we opened,


Michelle Obama: And, and we didn't even realize how expensive cigarettes were, you know, mmm hmm, yeah, yeah


Craig Robinson: Cigarettes were, yeah, and we broke, two cartons worth, but the really, scary but funny thing about that whole thing was, when mom, when they got home, and they were looking for their cigarettes, and they were going around the house, and we're sittin' there, trying to look innocent,

Michelle Obama: And we're and we're sitting there, in front of the TV, looking like, mmm, right [laughs]


Craig Robinson: And, but, but, always thinking, it's working, they won't be able to smoke, they're gone, this'll be the end of it,


Michelle Obama: They won't know, they won't notice, that their cigarettes are missing, and this'll be it. Right they'll be like Oh, well, can't find our cigarettes, I guess we're done with that bad habit,


Craig Robinson: And then finally, mom steps on the garbage can, and the top lifts up, and she's, Frasier! Frasier! Get in here! Craig! Michelle! What is going on! Well, and by then, we were in tears, crying, like oops!


Michelle Obama: Cause it's like, now we didn't really, think this through. This, this isn't how this was supposed to end,


Craig Robinson: This, this is not how we thought the reaction would be.


Michelle Obama: We were supposed to end happily, with people, with our parents going, well you young people were correct, and I'm glad you threw away our cigarettes, and now we know the error of our ways, it didn't work out that way, we got in trouble.


Craig Robinson: We got in trouble.


Michelle Obama: We got in so much trouble.


Craig Robinson: Lo and Behold... Meeting Barack Obama


Craig Robinson: There may have been one or two guys you dated that I absolutely did not like. But for the most part, your decisions on who to date, were solid, you know, just being able to, judge people, and develop your own relationships, and be able to navigate that, at a young age, and you were usually a pretty short term dating, eh, lemme date this guy for a month, nah, and then lo and behold you meet, uh, Barack Obama. So after a while, you were like finally gonna let us meet him. You drove up in your nice black Saab, and you were driving of course, and he gets out of the passenger side, and I remember the first thing mom said, Oooh he's tall, he's kinda good lookin'.


Michelle Obama: What you thought of him, was important to me,


Craig Robinson: Right,


Michelle Obama: So, I did ask you, in the, the way that we learned, that you could check out the character of another dude, was to, take him on the court, and play some basketball.


Craig Robinson: Yeah. And I'm like whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, these are professionals I play with, we can't just be bringing some guy there, it'll make him look bad, so I was like, ugh, lemme figure how to do this out. So we have this pickup game, and, when you play pickup basketball, a lot is based on integrity. Because you have to call your own fouls, there are no referees. And there's always that guy who, acts like he's a good dude, until, he has to make his own calls, and he's callin' fouls all the time, well Barack wasn't that guy, and that was good to see, that was the first thing. The second thing, is, he could actually play a little bit. He wasn't lying about that he played, about how good he was, 

Michelle Obama: About how good he was,


Craig Robinson: He was just like, I play a little bit, and, it spoke a lot to his authenticity, as far as I was concerned.


Michelle Obama: That was kind of a big star, in his column, that said, OK we can keep going forward. So thank you for that, thank you for that.


Craig Robinson: Yeah, yeah, my pleasure, I'm glad it worked out.


Michelle Obama: Because of dad's death, you were the person that I would go to, so, in in that way, I depend on you, more. For all the things that dad would do, for that double check. For that gut check, for that, I'm feeling nervous, just like when Barack was running, for office, you know, I mean, it's like, talking to you about my fears about it, you know, having you assure me that this is gonna be OK, like, you were the one that said, you know, you married a guy who has this kind of ambition, and this, in his heart, so, what are you gonna do. You might, I don't know if you remember what you said,


Craig Robinson: Oh I remember it, I remember, because, you were in one of your moods, where you were like, nah, I want my husband to be like Frasier Robinson. And, first of all, that's not fair to anybody. That dude, he was a special guy, and there was no way you were gonna put that pressure on any guy, it wouldn't ever work, you'd never be married, but second of all, was what I said about, I was like listen, you're trying to penalize, because, let's face it, none of us thought, that Barack could do what he was talking about doing. You know, I mean I remember,


Michelle Obama: Well I don't know that he thought, he


Craig Robinson: No, well, I will tell you, he may not have told you this, but when we first met, and he came over for the first Thanksgiving, I figured I'm gonna do the brother in law thing and take him to the side, hey man, dad's not here, what do you think you're gonna be doing for your future, and he was like, well, I would love to try this political thing, and I was like oh, really, like, so like like what do you want to run for Mayor, or for Alderman, and he's like you know, eh, may, more, a little bigger than that, so, maybe I'd run for Congress, or, run for the Senate. Or maybe even run for President. And I was like, shhhh shhh man, you don't want to say that too loud around here, folks'll think you crazy!


Michelle Obama: [laughs]


Craig Robinson: And lo and behold, he makes it.

The Michelle Obama Podcast: The First Lady in Conversation with her Brother

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