Let’s get right to it. We are living in a state of emergency! “No time for fake ones” or for Hip Hop political correctness. Real talk is required during these most pivotal and dangerous times. Any unilateral effort by anyone, including Hip Hop celebrities and artists, contrary to seeking immediate change to the hell on earth we are experiencing right now must be fact-checked. This is why The Source, home of Hip Hop media, cautions Ice Cube, Kanye West, Diddy, and now 50 Cent. The fact of the matter is that while these giants in the culture have influence, they also should exhibit responsibility, be sufficiently educated on all the issues, and not allow political operatives and systems to unintentionally manipulate the situation.
In the United States of America, we are now officially just two weeks out from the most important election of our lives. The 400 plus years of pain and injustice in America, coupled with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the spree of video recorded killings and shootings have taken a toll on black and brown people across this country in ways that people from all races, cultures, and religions around the world have taken to the streets to protest, seeking unprecedented change on a united front, more than ever before. All of this movement for justice, human rights, safety, and personal health is taking place now and serves as a referendum on the upcoming elections — not just for the Presidency of the United States and the Supreme Court, but for the United States Senate as well as local federal and state elections, which are all extremely important to the democracy of America and the well-being of its citizens. While Black Americans are working to stress the importance of getting out to the polls and casting mail-in ballots, some of the leaders in Hip Hop culture are making moves that are head-scratchers to people both inside and outside of the culture.
As evidenced by the 2016 election, Black women showed up to the polls in an effort to not let us get to the point that we face today with President Donald Trump. On the road to the election on November 3, where we need Black men to match the efforts of women, four of Hip Hop’s finest are currently making moves and comments that are challenging efforts to change the occupant of the White House and detracting from the mission to do so. While we will not attempt to guess the motives of these influencers, the impact of their words and the timing of their actions should be addressed. It should certainly be clarified that none of these individuals speak for the entire Hip Hop community — no one does!
The subject of scrutiny for the past week, Ice Cube, was announced as a contributor to the Trump campaign, specifically through the suggestions in Trump’s “Platinum Plan.” Ice Cube is one of The Source’s all-time favorite artists who holds the record with 13 cover stories. He has also always been a stand-up brother who has been unafraid to speak truth to power — however, this latest episode was a mistake nonetheless. In truth, the contents of Ice Cube’s “Contract With Black America” (as publicly reported) had certain substantive and progressive ideals for Black America. The notion that a “contract” (ie, legal document or binding covenant) should be entered was also interesting and progressive, for the record. There is serious doubt as to whether any such contract would be enforced, as a matter of law, appropriations, and public policy. It is also not clear if Cube consulted with any respected African-American policy organizations think tanks, Civil Rights Organization, or even the Congressional Black Caucus in preparation of the Contract With Black America. Late last week, the Trump Administration announced they worked alongside Ice Cube to help develop Trump’s “Platinum Plan”, adopting principles from the “Contract With Black America” that Cube created and shared across his social platforms. Of course, this created a marketing and press “win” for Trump and certainly caused many to question which presidential candidate cares more and/or is most willing to do more for the African-American community: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
Ice Cube stated that he has not endorsed Trump, nor is he working directly with him; instead, he took a meeting with those who are in power (Cube also notably communicated with representatives of Joe Biden who allegedly informed him they would meet with him after the elections). Nonetheless, Cube’s words didn’t fall on deaf ears. Indeed, the Black community should work with those that are in power but also be aware of the consequences, optics, and timing of any such meeting. The community’s disappointment with Ice Cube comes that he was “apparently” not able to discern that President Trump has had over 1,200 days to care about Black people. Donald Trump’s leadership (or lack thereof) during this recent pandemic has disgracefully decimated scores of Black and Hispanic people. Now, with three weeks left until the election, Ice Cube may have been unwittingly compromised as an influential Black pawn in hopes to sway votes for Trump to receive another 1200 days to not care about Black people. Alternatively, the Trump campaign may have considered such an association could “chill” Black men from coming to the polls and reduce the turnout. Cube suggests that he will not be used by Trump, yet has the “use” of Cube’s meeting (not even with Trump) already benefited Trump in some way? People are talking about it…
Other Hip Hop music leaders have also caused a political quagmire with their public statements and plans, some of which appear to be more of a personal publicity stunt than legitimate public service. Time will tell. While others have not received any direct support from Trump, efforts from other wealthy Black men include Mr. West, Diddy, and 50 Cent. Is this a case of courageous speech or an embarrassment of ignorance and self-promotion? Again, time will tell, yet the consequences are too dangerous to ignore or accept.
According to Politico, Trump representatives have stated that Kanye West aided in the development of the Platinum Plan; however, even if he had not, the announcement and impact of his own Presidential campaign is damaging. As one of the most influential figures on the planet, anything from Kanye, which currently is not sustainable for an actual chance to win the presidency, is arguably selfish, mentally incomprehensible, and politically inept. As time has demonstrated, Kanye’s attempts to legitimately be in the presidential race have served to be futile as the number of ballots his name would appear on has fallen woefully short. Instead of looking to empower a candidate that will not damage our country further, instead, he has trekked forward to promote merchandise, campaign ads, and videos in what appears to now be a grand effort of self-promotion. Again, this is not the time for self-promotion; Black people are dying all over the country.
Speaking of promotion, after suggesting Black people should keep our votes hostage, Diddy has adjusted his stance to now removing President Trump out of office. While Democratic political pundits will cheer the reluctant and unenthusiastic support for Biden, there is more that causes major political concern. After turning Diddy’s sights on the Presidential campaign, he has taken a similar yet different path as Ye in the promotion of a new political party, which he dubbed “Our Black Party.” The notion of supporting a Black political party is honorable, and we question whether Diddy contacted those who do that work and have been doing that work for many years. While the Hip Hop mogul has referred to his plans as an effort to launch a Black political party, this is ideal yet not a new concept in America. There has been a Black political party dating back to the 1840s, then to the well-known 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana where over 10,000 African Americans gathered, not for a concert but for intense and serious discussions and efforts to advocate for social, political, and economic change in America and beyond. A major component of such historic gathering, attended by Jesse Jackson, Amiri Baraka, Richard Hatcher (mayor of Gary), House Representative Charles C. Diggs, and many more, was supporting competent Black candidates to run for local, state, and federal office. Notably, the convention condemned the then-current political system proclaiming that the American political system had failed Black people and the only way to correct the problem was through independent Black politics. Hence, the need to truly examine this effort may have merit, yet the timing appears to be a distraction at best and political suicide at worst, during a crucial time of perhaps, the most important election of our lives.
Finally, last evening, 50 Cent took to social media after posting an image from either Fox News or a similar television network purportedly reporting Biden’s proposed “Top Tax Rates By State”. The caption by the world-renowned Hip Hop artist, actor, producer, and social media troll concluded with “WHAT THE FU#K! (VOTE For TRUMP) IM OUT…” He later stated “I don’t care Trump doesn’t like black people 62% are you out ya fu#king mind.” The post was followed by a series of Trump supporters and followers encouraging the need to vote for Trump. The tax increase is only applicable to Americans who make over $400,000 annually, but it was enough to get the “Candy Shop” rapper to endorse Donald Trump for the upcoming election.
The comment also failed to discuss the laundry list of disasters for Black people under the Trump administration. 50’s post did reference that “Trump doesn’t like Black people” yet that did not deter his support for Trump. This self-indictment is much too much to not object to. To support anyone who shows no support for your people and community is an absolutely senseless and/or selfish move with harmful consequences. Hate it or love it? We hate it… These are times to rise up. Our community deserves better and we hope 50 will apologize to the Black community for such a statement.
With respect to Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ plans on economics for the African American community, this is what they have offered which The Source supports and wish to help bring into existence and hold the next administration and Congress accountable:
– Investing in African American Businesses and Entrepreneurs and ensuring equal
access to credit and capital and opportunities for African American-owned
businesses to obtain or participate in federal contracts.
– Expanding African American Homeownership and access to affordable, safe housing by investing $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy-efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs.
– Promoting more equitable wealth building and a more secure retirement by
making social security benefits more equitable and encouraging individuals and
businesses through tax incentives to save for retirement.
– Investing in communities that need it most by modernizing infrastructure, driving additional capital into low-income communities to spur development,
implementing Congressman Clyburn’s formula to target funds to census tracts
with persistent poverty.
– And supporting African American workers in their fight for equal pay, a safe work environment, and a place of opportunities.
No cap, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but our Hip Hop brothers need to do better. Way better, in fact! It is the role of the media to challenge public officials and figures with large celebrity and social media followings to be accountable and honest. During these times, all of America – especially Black America – needs to have a change for the better. Flirting with Donald Trump and his hype machine is dangerous. Just ask all those who were close to him who were sent to jail. Don’t get sent to jail in your own community by dancing with Trump.
This is a message of caution to the four Hip-Hop titans referenced in this article — Your efforts, no matter how positive they may seem to you, are adding hurdles to an election season that is already burdened by voter suppression, misinformation, long wait times at polling locations, and a pandemic.
Further, this is a message of advice to the Hip Hop community. Let’s turn out the vote like never before. Do not be tricked or trapped by anything to prevent your vote or allow your vote to be used against you, your mother, father, sister, brother, family, and community (period). Understand that you may enjoy an artist’s music and stream their latest releases; yet they are not all politically wise and astute. They are also often calculated for their personal or business interests. Be wise and check their lyrics carefully.
The battleground states are Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Turn up the volume and GET OUT THE VOTE.
In closing, we all know, “words are powerful” and “timing is everything” therefore, those in the Hip Hop community, especially its leading influencers, need to be responsible and use this powerful force we all collectively built to help us during these most powerful times to make sure this country, community, and culture advance forward — we must act like everything depends on it because so much of our lives do, in fact, depend on this election.