In an age of surreality where sincere political offerings often read like satire, spoofing the president is a deceptively difficult task. After all, from summoning Frederick Douglass back from the dead to allegedly sponsoring a Russian pee-pee party, President Trump appears to have a monopoly on all of the best material. In a clear nod to the many times that Trump has made us laugh until we cried (and cried, and cried), Snoop Dogg has just released his most political music video yet, set in an alternate funhouse universe and starring a recognizably over-baked clown-in-chief named Ronald Klump.
While clearly poking fun at the president, “Lavender” (Nightfall Remix)—a reimagining of the original BADBADNOTGOOD track—is noticeably bereft of punchlines. The overblown Trump caricature isn’t amusing—are clowns ever funny? —so much as disturbing and deadly. No wonder the climax of the video finds Snoop aiming a gun at the over-contoured politician, marking a rare political stance from a rapper who’s recently resigned himself to hosting dinner parties with Martha Stewart on VH1. In a world where impeachment has become a mainstream fantasy, Snoop’s joining a growing group of celebrities overtly (and troublingly) flirting with the idea of mock-assassination.
Sometimes the only way to fight extreme absurdity/illogic is with clown makeup, a handful of Suicide Squad references, and some heavy-handed social satire. That seems to be the basic highdea that director Jesse Wellens—the star of the YouTube channel PrankvsPrank—presented to the King of Kush last October.
According to Billboard, this meeting of the minds took place when Wellens and Snoop snuck out of a video game event to light up in the rapper’s car. It was in that very hotboxed van that Wellens unveiled his pitch: “It included Resident Evil dogs, clowns, a commercial for the faux Snoop Loops cereal, and a timely concept inspired by Philando Castile.” High and/or up for a challenge, Snoop immediately signed on, sending Wellens his reworked version of “Lavender” only three days later. While the video, which includes a “press conference” of President Klump announcing his plans to deport all “Doggs,” is sheer, unsubtle spectacle, Snoop’s rhymes are the real revelation. For a rapper who’s historically been more likely to talk blunts than Black Lives Matter, Snoop isn’t pulling any punches with lines like, “Trying to keep from dying in these muthafuckin’ streets / Fuck the police / From a black man’s point of view…Resident evil, it’s all on camera and they still don’t believe you.”
Diehard fans know that Snoop publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, proclaiming that, “I would love to see a woman in office.” But Trump’s election is only one of the many concerns that hyper-political Snoop is wrestling with.
As he explained to Billboard, “The ban that this motherfucker tried to put up; him winning the presidency; police being able to kill motherfuckers and get away with it; people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years and motherfuckers that’s not black on the streets making money off of it—but if you got color or ethnicity connected to your name, you’ve been wrongfully accused or locked up for it, and then you watching people not of color position themselves to get millions and billions off of it. It’s a lot of clown shit going on that we could just sit and talk on the phone all day about, but it’s a few issues that we really wanted to lock into [for the video] like police, the president and just life in general.” Whether or not Wellens and Snoop’s collaboration manages to capture the essence of “life in general,” their basic premise, as articulated by Snoop, is hard to argue with: “The whole world is clownin’ around…if you really look at some of these motherfuckers, they are clowns.”
The “Lavender” remix will be featured on Snoop’s upcoming album Never Left, which is currently slated for May. According to the rapper, listeners can expect even more politics from the spring release: “I feel like it’s a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody’s dealing with the real issue with this fucking clown as president, and the shit that we dealing with out here, so I wanted to take time out to push pause on a party record and make one of these records for the time being.”
To be fair, this isn’t the first time Snoop’s been sobered by dire circumstances. Last July, he and The Game collaborated on a “unification march for men of color,” which culminated in a meeting between the rappers, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and top police officials. In an Instagram post about the march, The Game explained his mission to “make the Californian government & it’s law branches aware that from today forward, we will be UNIFIED as minorities & we will no longer allow them to hunt us or be hunted by us !!!”
As Snoop Dogg continues to speak out on issues of systemic racism and police violence, fans may be wondering if his partner-in-content, Martha Stewart—who famously served time herself—will be joining him on the political frontlines. Because if there’s one thing that could make 2017 even more surreal, it’s Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg and a YouTube prank star leading the resistance.