What The 2016 Presidential Election Means For Hip Hop?

America has spoken but the youth still have something to say.

The United States presidential election of 2016 from primaries to general will go down as one of the most contentious in the history of the nation.  For only the fourth time in the history of the US, the president has won the Electoral College but has lost the popular vote.  The last time this happened was 2000 when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore. Even though that election was decided through the courts, the run up to the grand finale never got to be as vicious as this one did, with the candidates even refusing to shake hands or make eye contact after the debates.

Throughout its short history, hip-hop has always been a gauge of this country’s youth, offering a peek into what was going on in the streets at the time. Whether rappers were talking about the crack epidemic, crime, racism, police brutality, or the ostentatious wealth that was being accumulated, you could always tell what was going on in the country by what the artists were saying.  2016 is no different and many famous and not so famous rappers have spoken and are speaking out in light of the sweltering tensions that are no longer packed away out the sight of television or an internet stream.

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Donald Trump is a polarizing figure and his decision to enter politics has come at an enormous cost. There was a time not so long ago when it was cool to not only be associated with Trump, but also to say his name in songs as he was and is the embodiment of success. On the classic EP by Ice Cube Kill at will Cube said “I gotta say what’s up to Digital Underground and humpty hump Cause he makin’ more than Donald Trump, you know what I’m sayin’, yo”. Smif N Wessun even named a single off their album The Rude Awakening, “Black Trump” where they sampled Raekwon’s voice from Incarcerated Scarfaces” which was the lead single off his classic album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx where he rhymed “Raise a heavy generator but yo, guess who’s the black Trump?” There have been artists even more recently that have bragged about being friends with Trump, and again you must remember, just being associated with him meant something and sent a statement to the world that you had made it.

When Trump decided that he was going to run for president, before he had officially announced it, he began making statements and expressing opinions that did not sit well with the people that had looked up to him for so many years.  Black people in the hip hop community never hated Trump, black people in the hip hop community wanted to be Trump and live like him. Now he is despised by most of America. More than half of the people that voted; voted against him. There is also a large vocal group of people that were not counted in the official tally because they did not bother to show up, either because they hated both candidates, did not feel like their vote would matter, or were ineligible for various reasons. They feel that Trump is an arrogant, evil, misogynistic, racist man that will not only destroy the country but may destroy the human species in the process and I swear I am not exaggerating this sentiment.

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Artist like TI, Rick Ross, YG, School boy Q, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, and many others have all reacted negatively to Trump in the recent days and months. If Donald Trump had stayed out of politics and continued to build buildings and sell golf courses, he would have still been loved and admired by most people in the country. It would have still been cool to stay in a Trump hotel, taking selfies with your back to the New York City skyline showing the world that you had made it to the big time.

Now that he has won the presidency, he has earned the respect of career politicians even while calling them all idiots and crooks. He blasted into their world, ignoring the strategists, professional pollsters, and political talking heads, snatching the highest position in the game but at a cost to his name that he may never see restored. The hip hop world will surely never forgive him, and I am certain he doesn’t care about us but remember hip hop is a gauge. It is the canary in the coal mine that gives an indication of what the youth are thinking and feeling. The youth is the future, and I know somewhere in America there is a kid, maybe they are a teenager or young adult that is watching this entire spectacle. He or she is a hip hop head and is absorbing all of the pain, despair, and hate being spewed and is determined to do something about it. Maybe that something will be to become a great artist like a 2Pac, or Immortal Technique or maybe it will be to run for office just like Barack Obama did after witnessing even from a distance the turmoil of the 1960’s.

The people that swept Trump into office are fighting to hold on to the past but the people in the streets protesting and rioting represent the future and what that future will be is unknown. But, if you really are curious, listen to artists like Vic Mensa or Kendrick Lamar. I must warn you that what you will hear may be scary but in order to fix a problem you first have to acknowledge that there is one, and once again hip hop is trying to warn America that something is wrong, the only question is how will it respond?

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