Hip-Hop’s Love Affair With Donald Trump Is Officially Over
Kanye deleting Trump tweets. Snoop’s video of him mock-shooting a clown Trump. T.I.’s anti-Trump tirade. Rappers who idolized Trump are singing a different tune.
Getting called out in an angry tweet by POTUS is quickly becoming a celebrity rite of passage.
Plugged-in citizens who have been waiting for Trump’s Twitter fingers to turn to condemning anti-Semitic threats or addressing a rise in xenophobic attacks were disappointed but probably not shocked on Wednesday morning when the President decided instead to drag Snoop Dogg for an incendiary music video. Yes, the leader of the free world didn’t just watch Snoop’s four-and-a-half minute musical satire of an un-presidential clown named Ronald Klump—he also took the time to attack it on Twitter. “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama?” our President tweeted. “Jail time!”
For some context, it took Nicki Minaj two whole weeks to clap back at Remy Ma’s latest diss track. Wouldn’t you like to think that the President has more on his plate than Nicki Minaj?
To make matters even worse, Trump was joined in this unbalanced rap battle by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who both condemned Snoop for pointing a plastic toy gun at a clown caricature of President Donald Trump in his latest music video. Here’s a thought: when going after a legendary rapper, maybe don’t bring Ted Cruz along as backup.
While TMZ was busy grilling conservative senators on their hip-hop hot takes, actual rappers came to Snoop’s defense. In one particularly vivid Instagram, rapper T.I. posted a screenshot of Trump’s anti-Snoop tweet, captioned, “@snoopdogg is a Fuckin Legend u Fucking Tangerine Tanned Muskrat scrotum skin, Lacefront Possum fur Wig wearing, Alternative fact, Atomic Dog diarrhea face ass man!!!! Leave our legends names out ya fuckin old ass puppy piss smelling ass mouth & continue to focus on dividing minorities, building barriers, alienating immigrants, & fuckin this country up like u been doin.”
“Tanned Muskrat scrotum skin” might be one of the more evocative taunts that’s been leveled at 45, but it’s just the latest in a long line of rap world disses.
While celebrity support for Hillary Clinton was arguably lackluster, come November 9th hip-hop heavyweights were showing up in droves to share their disappointment on social media. Public Enemy’s Chuck D tweeted, “Hitler Is Real #meinTrump.” Talib Kweli was in mourning, writing, “I was wrong. I thought America couldn’t possibly disappoint me more than it already had. But, I was wrong. RIP America.” Tinashe was “sick. disgusted. heartbroken.” And Macklemore, true to form, was incapable of trimming his reaction down to 140 characters, instead Instagramming a lengthy post that culminated in a pledge to fight systemic oppression, empower his daughter, and keep fighting. Meanwhile, Snoop Dogg Instagrammed “fuck this shit,” asking Drake to hook him up with a Canadian crib.
Snoop’s Canadian aspirations marked a bit of a departure for the 45-year-old artist. As recently as May 2016, Snoop told The Daily Beast that when it came to the upcoming presidential election, he was still undecided. “On the election tip, I don’t really have one [candidate],” he said. “I’ve been following lightly, but I don’t have a favorite. Either or. Him or her. I don’t really care because I don’t think they’re going to affect me as much as I’m going to affect them. Presidents only matter when they have a pulse on what’s going on in the world, and I’m always a part of the heartbeat of the world.” Pressed for an opinion on the Republican candidate, Snoop added, “I like some of the shit he’s done and he do, but I don’t agree with a lot of the shit that he says, so I have mixed emotions when it comes to him. He says a lot of shit where you go, ‘OK, that makes sense,’ and then he says a lot of shit where go, ‘Damn, that makes no sense,’ so I don’t really get him. I’m not a fan and not a hater.”
The rapper’s ambivalence might be traced back to the fact that Trump clearly considered him a pal. In a 2010 Larry King interview, Trump agreed “100 percent” with King’s categorization of Snoop as “a super guy,” adding, “He does his thing and he does it well.” And while Snoop famously participated in the real estate tycoon’s 2011 Comedy Central roast, mocking the Trump family’s history of anti-black discrimination, the two appeared to be on relatively good terms at the time.
Snoop’s transformation from apolitical King of Kush to disappointed citizen to presidential Twitter target reflects a larger trend in the hip-hop community. After all, before he earned a paltry 8 percent of the black vote, Trump was an alleged friend of the African-American celebrity community who counted hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and rapper Sean Combs among his token pals.
In a 2015 article appropriately titled “Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends,” Simmons shared his nickname for Trump—“Richie Rich”—a vestige from an era before Simmons felt the need to publicly denounce the presidential candidate in a strongly-worded open letter. Donald Trump is like any other white guy who brags about all of his black friends, except he’s much worse. While other self-proclaimed allies might wear a BLM Livestrong or retweet Kamala Harris, Trump’s advocating giving “power back to the police” and threatening to send “the feds” into Chicago. Plus, against all odds, Donald Trump’s opinions actually matter, because he’s the President of the United States.
While Trump has a history of courting famous people and even lying about his celebrity connections, his love for the hip-hop community was, for a time, actually reciprocated. Long before he ran on an openly xenophobic platform, bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, and took shots at Beyoncé, Trump’s name functioned as a shorthand for wealth, business acumen, and the American hustle. According to a 2016 FiveThirtyEight roundup, Trump had been referenced in 266 tracks dating back to 1989. At the peak of his referential power, 2013, the real estate magnate got 33 separate hip-hop shout-outs.
In 1998’s “Three Strikes You In,” Ice Cube rapped, “I’m just trying’ to get rich like Trump.” One year later, Nas rhymed, “The best couple they seen since Trump and Marla Maple.” On other tracks, Lil Kim bragged about staying at the Trump International, Jeezy called himself “Donald Trump in a white tee and white 1’s,” and Jay Z was self-appointed “the ghetto’s answer to Trump.” But around 2010, Trump-related lyrics started to take a turn. Future political loose cannon Kanye West preached, “Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all” on 2010’s “So Appalled.” Come 2015, Rick Ross was rapping, “Assassinate Trump like I’m Zimmerman.” But hip-hop DJT takedowns understandably peaked in 2016, as epitomized by YG’s incredibly catchy “Fuck Donald Trump”—the rallying cry that kicked off Snoop Dogg’s show at the 2016 DNC “unity party” in Philly last year.
While Jay Z may have aspired to be like Trump in the past, by 2016 he was appearing at Clinton campaign rallies to tell crowds that, “[Donald Trump] cannot be our president.” But the clearest indicator of prevailing hip-hop sentiment came when Kanye West was dragged, cancelled, and thoroughly called out for meeting with the president-elect in Trump Tower last December. While Mr. Kim Kardashian initially attempted to defend his actions, he ultimately deleted all of his tweets about the infamous summit—not surprising given the sheer quantity and force of fan backlash.
Clown-centric music videos aside, it’s quickly becoming clear that the hip-hop community isn’t kidding around when it comes to Donald Trump.