Former President Barack Obama has some suggestions for why so many rappers publicly expressed support for US President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, despite his “law and order” rhetoric and his opposition to social justice issues.
In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Obama pointed out that there are many different cultures that exist in hip hop. Some artists talk about justice or life on the streets, while others talk about bling, “winning” and getting rich. The artists that talk about money excessively also often have a macho attitude as well, which lines up with Donald Trump’s persona.
In the interview, Obama says, “I have to remind myself that if you listen to rap music, it’s all about the bling, the women, the money. A lot of rap videos are using the same measures of what it means to be successful as Donald Trump is. Everything is gold-plated. That insinuates itself and seeps into the culture.”
Trump was referenced in countless hip hop songs throughout the 90s, where rappers often compared their wealth to that of Donald Trump. While he appears to have fallen out of favor with the hip hop community in recent years, many rappers have expressed support for him this year, while others have agreed to meet with him about the Platinum Plan.
“America has always had a caste system — rich and poor, not just racially but economically — but it wasn’t in your face most of the time when I was growing up,” Obama explained. “Then you start seeing Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, that sense that either you’ve got it or you’re a loser. And Donald Trump epitomizes that cultural movement that is deeply ingrained now in American culture.”
However, he does have some optimism for the culture of the future, and says that values have shifted for the younger generation, who he perceives as being less materialistic.
“When you look at the younger generation, Malia and Sasha’s generation, you see that more clearly. It’s more often articulated, what they want out of life. They’re much less likely to have a need to be on Wall Street by such-and-such date. That is not how they seem to be defining themselves quite as much. That makes me more optimistic,” he said.
During the recent election, many hip-hop fans were shocked to see some of their favorite artists showing public support for Trump. Kanye West was one of the first to come out in support, and it resulted in a mixture of outrage and concern for his mental health. He has since distanced himself from Trump and launched his own controversial political career.
Later on in the campaign, Lil Wayne appeared at the White House alongside Trump in a photo that he shared to his Twitter account, saying that he “Just had a great meeting with (President Donald Trump) besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership.”
50 Cent expressed support for Trump on social media, before changing his mind a few days later after his ex-girlfriend scolded him and offered to go back out with him if he changed his vote. Lil Pump followed Trump around for the last few rallies on the campaign trail this year, even appearing on stage with the president at a rally in Michigan.