President Donald Trump’s relationship with the rap industry is actually more complicated than you might think. Trump’s been named-checked in rap lyrics for decades. As a professionally famous rich person, his ostentatious displays of wealth were aspirational among MCs who similarly brag about success and their hustler mentalities.
Rap music is a popular African American art form, and Trump is at 10 percent approval with black voters, according to a September ABC News/Washington Post poll. So it’s not surprising that mainstream rappers such as T.I., Eminem and, of course, YG have called the president out. (YG went so far as to drop “FDT” [F— Donald Trump] in the heat of the 2016 election.)
Trump thought “assisting” with A$AP Rocky’s detention in Sweden would improve his standing in the hip hop community, but alas that didn’t help.
Oh well, he still has Kanye.
But the Louis Vuitton Don isn’t the only rapper spittin’ bars of support for The Donald.
The #MAGAChallenge has amateur rhymers dusting off their composition notebooks to see who can write the hottest 16s to Make America Great Again.
It seems to have grown from the frustration of a black Trump supporter told one too many times that his backing of the president is foolish and contradictory. He then challenges his fellow minority (and some white) MAGA friends to chirp back with their own rhymes over his beat.
The chorus of the song that kicked off the challenge reflects that frustration.
“They say ain’t you that MAGA boy?”
Call me what you want cause it don’t matter boy,
I just speak the truth, that’s something they don’t understand,
Why these white liberals try to tell me who I am?
Reader, I know you come to Heard on the Hill for honest, thoughtful music criticism, so I’m going to keep it 100 percent real here: Most of these freestyles suck.
They’re not very creative or inventive. They’re hyper-literal, with little wordplay involving metaphors or figurative language. The rhymes are mostly Trump talking points about Hillary Clinton, emails and “corrupt media.” They speak to the anxiety and defensiveness that some minority Trump supporters feel.
Some of the lyrics sound as if they were ripped straight from the fever swamps of InfoWars. Seriously, one guy sounded like he just rapped headlines as he scrolled the website.
Plenty of lyrics are of the free-thinking, leave-the-Democratic-plantation, you-can’t-control-me variety. There are lots of “red pill” analogies that compare black Democrats to brainwashed “captives” who need to be “set free.”
There’s also a grab bag of conservative clichés, references and elite bogeymen. For instance, one section is just a rapper rattling off a list of Trump’s perceived enemies: Hollywood, CNN, The Washington Post, the “Failing New York Times,” Facebook, Google.
By far the worst performance was turned in by former “Grey’s Anatomy” actor and recent MAGA convert Isaiah Washington, who raps like a person who’s never heard music before.
— Isaiah Washington (@IWashington) September 18, 2019
Although one participant, DVS 7.0, has a decent flow, if not questionable lyrics:
Then we KAG on ’em,
Cause I ain’t no lib-er-al to sit around and lag on ’em,
It’s by the sweat of our brow that we gon’ secure this bag on ’em,
Flag up, Chick-fil-A, with a Bible while I sit on my porch,
Waiting patiently for “Robert O’Dork,”
With 15 letters plus an A and R to see how triggered he gets,
Then pay a visit to Yang so I can slap him with a check,
I forgot about Biden, might I’ve forgotten about himself
I don’t think Kendrick Lamar has to worry about anyone taking his crown.