By Charlie Brugnolotti 'Larry King Now'
Poet Saul Williams has an apparent disdain for the GOP nominee, Donald Trump. His strong feelings towards Trump are less about the man himself and more about what he represents. For over twenty years, the idea of Donald Trump has had a tremendous influence on the hip hop community. Artists such as Lil Wayne, Kanye West, T.I., Gucci Mane, Nelly, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Meek Mill, Big Sean, P Diddy, among many others, have mentioned him Donald Trump in songs as a symbol of insane wealth.
Williams described his issue with Trump by saying, "Before the popular idea of Trump in the modern media, and his run for presidency, I had already felt like he had won something unearned, which was the mind states of a lot of young rappers who were like, you know, poor people over there, rich people over there, I am with the rich people, I am the Donald Trump."
In essence, Williams takes issue with the fact that celebrity and wealth are influencing these young artists. In his interview with Watchloud.com, Williams furthers his point by stating, “Rappers have been praising Trump for over a decade and ignoring real heroes.” Williams feels that the hip hop community is focused on wealth, without understanding the exploitation involved in earning the great sums of money that Trump has amassed over a long career in business.
"I was already pissed off at just where we placed the idea of capitalism, the idea of money and celebrity and how these two play out in the ongoing game of exploitation in the construct of poverty, and how we end up voting against our own interest without realizing it just because of celebrity," Williams elaborated to Larry King.
Looking at some of the lyrics that mention Trump, it is easy to see that Williams has a fair point. Trump is being used as a synonym for wealth:
"Richest n---- in my hood: call me Donald Trump" - Young Jeezy's "Trump"
"Used to want dough like Jay-Z but now I'm thinking Donald Trump"- TI's "I need dollas"
"I spend absurd money, private bird money/That Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Bloomberg money." - P.Diddy's 'We gon make it'
The gist of all of Trump's mentions in songs is the same: Donald Trump is rich and he can do what he wants.
Mac Miller who famously recorded a song called "Donald Trump," and had a Twitter scuffle with Trump himself, furthers Williams' point that, to rappers, Donald Trump is more a cultural representation of wealth as opposed to a real person. "The song is not about Donald Trump...But the aura of the song is kinda.."
The impact Trump has had on hip hop is apparent. His combination of celebrity and power makes him the perfect symbol of wealth. While Williams may not like it, Trump, to some, represents the embodiment of the American dream -- at least, that's what's apparent in all of these song lyrics. In most cases, the hip hop artists want Trump's money and tenacity. They are aspiring to be rich, a quality of Trump, but not to the man himself.
The problem is the game, not the player. Williams is using Trump as a symbol for capitalism and a society that is obsessed with wealth. Hip hop has long focused on wealth, as a condition of the circumstances. Hip hop artists historically came from low income families; their songs are in essence dreams of what they wish to achieve. Once they obtain wealth, they keep the focus on money because it sells records.
This verse from "Juicy," by Notorious B.I.G., explains that a poverty-stricken upbringing can lead to an obsession with wealth.
"Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ When I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this/50 inch screen, money green leather sofa/Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur/Phone bill about two G's flat/No need to worry, my accountant handles that/And my whole crew is loungin'/Celebratin' every day, no more public housin'/Thinkin' back on my one-room shack/Now my mom pimps a Ac' with minks on her back/And she loves to show me off, of course/Smiles every time my face is up in The Source/We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us/No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us/Birthdays was the worst days/Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay/Uh, damn right I like the life I live/ 'Cause I went from negative to positive"
Notorious B.I.G. went on to record wealth driven songs such as "All about the Benjamins" and "Mo Money, Mo Problems."
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