North Texas Daily

How should rappers respond to Donald Trump?

How should rappers respond to Donald Trump?

How should rappers respond to Donald Trump?
November 24
18:30 2016

Throughout this year, journalists have covered the antics, fraud and ridiculous oration of Donald Trump. Fueling the fire was Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” which brilliantly lampooned the president-elect’s egotism.

With the media’s subtle jabs and the bold critiques from sketch television, how should musicians respond to Trump’s future plans? Mainly the artists who are best known for addressing political corruption and institutionalized prejudice: rappers.

Ever since it first reached mainstream success in 1979, hip-hop culture’s primary functions have either been livening up parties or telling serious stories. Originating in African-American communities, when drug law enforcement heavily targeted those areas, hip-hop was a safe haven for wordsmiths clawing themselves out of hazardous conditions.

About 40 years later, contemporary poets such as J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper continue the tradition of shedding light on racial issues. What all three musicians have in common is their artistic influences from Kanye West, who betrayed rap culture this past weekend.

At his San Jose concert last Thursday, West declared he didn’t vote, saying “if [he] would’ve voted, [he] would’ve voted for Trump.” Although West has acted like a diva for quite some time, his comments were shocking; considering how he began his career making socially conscious music.

Having grown up on West’s classics, I can’t imagine how a Trump supporter once rapped the words: “Drug dealer buy Jordan, crackhead buy crack and the white man get paid off of all of that.”

While I believe West’s antics were more in a series of mentally ill outbursts, it’s still a detriment to the culture for one of its biggest influences to tell black fans to “stop focusing on racism” — one of rap’s defining topics.

In fact, if anyone has best exemplified how to respond to the Trump era, it’s the team behind the rap musical “Hamilton.”

Last Thursday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a “Hamilton” screening. Taking into account how the production is performed by actors of color, it makes sense for the crew to issue a statement for Pence, with his history of imposing laws against LGBTQ and minority individuals.

Brandon Victor Dixon, who portrays Aaron Burr in the play, said to Pence that “the diverse America” is “alarmed and anxious that [Trump’s] administration will not protect” those communities. He concluded by saying, “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Not only did the “Hamilton” team express people’s worries in a professional manner, they cited their stances optimistically and avoided direct conflict with an establishment figure. The same can’t be said for President-elect Trump, who angrily tweeted in a fashion comparable to the Meek Mill/Drake feud.

Although many of us would like Trump to apologize for all of his prejudiced prose, it wouldn’t stop his inauguration from happening. All rappers can do now is continue bringing awareness for people willing to listen.

Since Trump and Pence will be empowered soon, the responsibility falls on citizens, reporters and entertainers to stay informed during this vital period. As tempting as it is to furiously tweet at Trump supporters, replace those thoughts with constructive information about domestic and international issues.

As for rappers, they should take note of the precedent “Hamilton” has set. The Coles, Kendricks and Chances are still poised to honor rap culture, and their brands of optimism are what minorities need to hear in 2017.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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