Why Lil Wayne’s Alliance With Trump Makes Perfect Sense
As Lil Wayne follows in the footsteps of fellow rappers Ice Cube and 50 Cent, Kyndall Cunningham writes about how it demonstrates “they have nothing to lose besides money.”
When the Trump administration announced its collaboration with Ice Cube on a so-called “Platinum Plan” for Black America two weeks ago, the automatic sarcastic response on Twitter was, “Who will be the next rapper to support Trump?” (Although, the rapper claims somewhat dubiously that he doesn’t endorse the president.) Like every meme on the internet that eventually becomes a part of our increasingly strange reality, a domino effect of men in hip-hop publicly courting the Republican incumbent transpired over a short amount of time.
A week after the Ice Cube announcement, 50 Cent casually took to Instagram to tell his 26.2 million followers to vote for Trump due to Biden’s proposed tax rates (he recently rescinded his endorsement). Lil Pump did the same, expressing his fiscal concerns with a lot more profanities and a Photoshopped image of him shaking Trump’s hand. And most recently, on Thursday night, Lil Wayne tweeted out an uncharacteristically formal statement about his meeting with the president.
“Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus,” he tweeted. “Besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership. He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done.”
Reactions to Lil Wayne’s endorsement of Trump, compared to when Kanye West first declared his admiration for him back in 2018 or when Ice Cube got on Twitter to haphazardly defend their alleged nonpartisan meeting, are indicative of the rapper’s near non-existence in the political landscape. A name search of the musician on Twitter shows more confusion and amusement at the sheer zaniness of the photo op than actual shock at the rapper’s political values (except from right-wing pundits who foam at the mouth whenever a notable Black person sides with the Republican Party). Aside from memes pointing to his 2004 song “Go DJ” and your run-of-the-mill reaction GIFs, several clips of Lil Wayne speaking apathetically about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality began to re-circulate—most noticeably, an interview with the rapper on Nightline that briefly caused a stir online when it was first broadcast in 2016.
“I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with me,” he told ABC News journalist Linsey Davis. “You feeling connected to something that ain’t got nothing to do with you? If it ain’t got nothing to do with me, I ain’t connected to it.”
In the frenetic interview—that feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch—Lil Wayne goes on to say with a shameless grin on his face that because he’s “rich” he “don’t see none of that.” Twitter users also pointed to an interview with Fox Sports from the same year in which he states he “never dealt with racism” and that it’s not “real,” pointing to his large white fanbase as evidence. The rapper also spoke on Apple Music’s Young Money Radio this past June about the time a white officer allegedly saved his life after he accidentally shot himself at the age of 12, and how that framed his perspective of the police.
It was interesting to watch certain people on Twitter use these soundbites of Lil Wayne to highlight some sort of hypocrisy between those previous dismissive statements and his purported newfound interest in the “community” and “criminal reform,” when, in fact, none of his a/political antics really contradict one another. While we don’t have any details about the rapper’s interaction with Trump aside from what he tweeted, or his motivations in meeting with him, one can assume that the rapper is attracted to Trump in the way straight, cis Black men in hip-hop with immense wealth and power have always been attracted to Trump.
For years, music writers and cultural critics have editorialized about Trump as a phenomenon in braggadocio rap, what his false posturing as a self-made man from Queens has represented to low-income Black communities, and how these capitalist aspirations and individualism obstruct actual liberation for Black people. Likewise, Lil Wayne’s consistently lax responses to life-or-death issues facing Black Americans are all framed through his experience growing up as a poor, Black boy from New Orleans whose life has been directly affected by violence but who was able to become one of the world’s best-selling artists and the CEO of his own record label. The conservative “bootstrap” philosophy that filters the rapper’s impression of Black struggle—and is embedded in the language of Trump’s business-focused agenda for Black America—couldn’t be more clear.
The only thing that piques any real curiosity about Lil Wayne’s partnership with Trump is what it could possibly mean in terms of branding. When celebrities like Kanye West, his wife Kim Kardashian, Ice Cube, and even CNN pundit Van Jones are pulling up at the White House to discuss policy and make cynical agreements, they are, in part, projecting a false sense of thoughtfulness, intelligence, and leadership to their fans and the rest of the world. Does Lil Wayne actually want to become an influential voice in the political realm like many of his misguided industry mates, a position he’s seemed to avoid his entire career? Or does he simply want to drum up as much Black support for Trump as he can a week before the election to avoid paying what would be an inconsequential amount of taxes for a multi-millionaire under the Biden administration?
In a year when P. Diddy is creating his own political party weeks before a crucial election and Ice Cube is putting his faith in Republicans, wealthy men in hip-hop are letting us know loud and clear that they have nothing to lose besides money. Maybe the most striking thing about Trump’s latest contact with a male rapper is how predictable it all is.