There was a time when American rap musicians loved Donald Trump; he was regarded as the charismatic ‘billionaire’ celebrity who embodied the aspirational nature of the genre. Many famous rappers came up from a life of poverty to become world famous and rich. Trump was one of many icons who lived a life to envy.
When Trump began campaigning for President of the United States, his bigoted views were exposed before the world. Many who used to glorify his name are now staunch critics of the man in the golden wig.
We’re going to look at how rappers went from calling themselves “the black Trump” to making songs like “Fuck Donald Trump”. We’re examining this genre because many of the artists are African-American and hip-hop is very in-tune to cultural and political shifts.
Before we address the negatives, let’s remember the good old days of Trump-love. Here’s a nice graph showing the number of times Trump has appeared in rap lyrics compared to a couple of other famous billionaires, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
As you’d expect to see, Trump has been a continual cultural touchpoint for rappers, likely due to his extravagant nature and consistent presence in popular culture. Moreso than lowkey figures like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Of course, Trump’s mentions have skyrockets since he started campaigning for the presidency.
In the 1990s and 2000s Trump’s racism hadn’t fully emerged; all people really knew was that he was rich and famous. He had notable African-American celebrity friends like Don King and Russell Simmons. He can’t have been that bad right?
FiveThirtyEight did some legit research into these pre-presidential mentions in rap and found that since 1986, Trump has been mentioned in 266 songs.
Between 1989 and 2004 60 percent of these were positive, while only 13 percent of these were negative. The love was real.
The negativity only really started in 2015 – before this there had only been eight negative mentions in total. In 2015 alone he received 34 negative mentions, while still drawing 17 neutral and 16 positive mentions according to FiveThirtyEight’s categorisations.
As recently as 2014, there were songs like Rae Sremmurd’s “Up Like Trump” which glorified the Donald’s money – drawing favourable comparisons with his wealth and theirs.
2014 was the last time we saw consistently positive mentions for Donald Trump in rap lyrics.
Times have changed and rap music has broadly become critical of Trump. Let’s run down some of the most famous examples of people turning their back on him.
Many of the prominent artists from Jay-Z’s generation hailed from New York like Trump; artists like Nas and Jay-Z made frequent comparisons between themselves and him.
They embraced the idea of becoming rich billionaires who owned glamorous properties like Trump Tower. Jay-Z famously boasted on “What More Can I Say”, that he stays at Trump Tower. That’s it. Just staying in Trump’s building was a reason to boast.
You can see why – a recent listing of a one bedroom flat in the Trump International costs upwards of $2 million. They even throw in 1.5 baths. Personally, I’d want at least two for the money.
Fast forward to the 2016 United States Presidential election, Jigga was appearing on-stage with Hilary Clinton endorsing the Democratic candidate. Saying things like, “[Donald Trump] cannot be our president.”
Mac Miller is another dude who went from comparing himself to Trump to hating him. In 2011 his breakout song “Donald Trump” went Platinum.
Mac Miller compared his status in the rap game to Trump, everyone was happy.
@macmiller “Donald Trump the Song” gets 16M hits on YouTube. Who wouldn’t be flattered?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2011
It’s fun to know that Trump only became angry when the song did well, its success triggered one of his now-famous Twitter rants. It burned him up knowing a song called “Donald Trump” didn’t bring him any royalties.
Little @MacMiller, you illegally used my name for your song “Donald Trump” which now has over 75 million hits.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2013
It was just announced that @MacMiller’s song “DonaldTrump” went platinum—tell Mac Miller to kiss my ass!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2013
Little Mac Miller’s next album may bomb. He can’t use my name again for sales.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2013
Those tweets came across a three-month period, that’s expensive hate right there.
In 2016 Mac Miller appeared on The Nightly Show to express his feelings on the man:
“I’m gonna be here every day telling the world how much I hate you, how much of a clown you are, and how we as a nation are better than you will ever be as a racist fuckwad of a person.”
Another case of Trump going from rap role model to figure of hate.
Just please don’t elect this motherfucker man
— Mac (@MacMiller) December 16, 2015
Kung-Fu Kenny is one of the biggest rappers in the world right now and has made his name being a bastion of socially aware hip-hop. His last two albums have featured frank dissections of race relations in America.
Interestingly Kendrick was another Trump-advocate back in the day. In 2009’s “Determined” he raps about aspiring to have the money and lifestyle of rich people like Bill Gates and Trump so he can escape the rough streets.
Again, we see Trump symbolising a lifestyle of money and financial freedom; an up-and-coming Kendrick Lamar wants to join this club.
Later Lamar talks about aspiring to have the business acumen of successful music industry figures like Berry Gordy and L.A. Reid. It’s interesting that in those days Trump was a person Kendrick wanted to emulate, along with these black moguls.
The stark contrast between this and the present time is clear from a number of anti-Trump statements Kendrick has made. My favourite:
Translation = fuck the president.
Lamar toyed with making his brilliant new album DAMN. all about Donald Trump, until Barack Obama talked him out of it.
Snoop and Trump appeared to have a friendly personable relationship prior to the latter’s foray into politics. In 2007 Snoop appeared on an episode of The Apprentice with the winners getting the chance to freestyle with the West Coast legend.
When Trump was roasted on a 2011 Comedy Central special, Snoop was one of those involved. He made some jokes about Trump’s presidential aspirations, which were funny at the time, but less so now.
“Donald’s saying he wants to run for president and move into the White House. Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve pushed a black family out of their home.
Housing discrimination is all fun and games until people enter politics, right?
After the president’s inauguration Snoop sent a stark message to any black artist looking to perform at the presidential inauguration, “I’m waiting for you to do it so I can roast the fuck out of you.”
In March, Snoop caused controversy in the music video for his verse on BADBADNOTGOOD’s “Lavender”. At the end he shoots a clown-faced character named Ronald Klump with a confetti pistol.
Again the thin-skinned president was quick to respond to criticism:
Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
Amy Zimmerman points out that it took Nicki Minaj a full two weeks to counter Remy Ma’s diss. Meanwhile the President of the United States responded in 3 days to music video where Snoop Dogg shoots him with a toy gun that sprays confetti.
We aren’t even getting into the fact Donald Trump encouraged his followers to shoot Hilary Clinton when they were campaigning for the presidency.
Republican cronie Marco Rubio seriously added the following to the controversy:
“Snoop shouldn’t have done that. We’ve had presidents assassinated in this country before so anything like that is really something we should be careful about.”
These examples show that there was a time when Donald Trump was not only cool, but the sort of person rappers would aspire to become. Before the presidency, people would drop his name as a way of boasting about themselves.
This seems very strange in today’s political climate where many people would be horrified to be compared to Trump. Logic’s new album features “America” which calls out Kanye West for that time he endorsed voting for the Republican candidate.
Just think that a couple of years ago praising Trump might prove to people that you were at the top of the game.