Obama tells MTV music can 'set the world on fire'

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The president detailed his position on music at some length, saying that he remembers listening to Bob Marley in college and "not agreeing with his whole philosophy necessarily but raising my awareness about how people outside of our country were thinking about the struggles for jobs and dignity and freedom."

He also mentioned the 1970s artists who defined the anti-war movement and others who engaged with the civil rights debate. According to Obama, the genre that currently comes closest to conveying a similar cultural message is hip hop.

He added that he might not be up to speed on every artist discussing political issues.

"I've been working really hard right now so I haven't updated my iPod," he said.

The president spoke with MTV's Sway Calloway at the White House in the live interview. MTV selected questions submitted online, aiming to present the concerns of the young Americans who are their target audience as well as a key demographic in the upcoming election.

MTV gave Obama the chance to address issues that have taken a back seat during a campaign season that has mostly focused on the economy and certain social issues, such as gun violence and climate change.

Obama did not make news on any of those issues. On reforming gun laws, he said that his administration will "look at solutions" to keeping "guns out of the hands of people who are shooting each other," but would emphasize the broader problem of addressing root causes, especially in inner cities.

On gay marriage, he said the next generation, including MTV viewers, would likely bring about the next step in changing policies nationwide. "Their attitudes are going to reflect the future," he said.

And he brought up Mitt Romney when asked about climate change, saying there is a "huge contrast" between the two of them on the topic. "I'm surprised it did not come up in one of the debates," he noted.

He also touted his support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, funding for Pell grants, gay marriage, and including reproductive healthcare in insurance reform.

MTV also requested a sit-down interview with Romney, who has not taken them up on the offer.