Current Events

Why Donald Trump Is More Hip-Hop Than We'd Like

This looks like the face of a man who's dropped a mike or two.
This looks like the face of a man who's dropped a mike or two. Gage Skidmore via Flickr Commons
There have been a lot of irresponsible things said and done over the past two years that really caused people to step back and be like, WTF, but they all led up to this point. If there was anything that could make you feel more at ease about reality, then maybe this is about to be one of those times.

Donald Trump is now the president. But he used to be just one of the best-known mega-rich television star/real-estate developers known in hoods across America. The New Yorker got it so wrong, yet so right in 2015 when Jelani Cobb pointed out that Trump was born with a name that sounds like it was made for hip-hop, especially if you put "The Don" in front. And the 45th president’s name has been synonymous with aspirational wealth for a long time, a very long time.

In fact, taking time out to ponder this could be called an absolutely irresponsible thing to do. But there’s no turning back now, so we might as well have just a little bit of fun with it. Because in a perfect world, this would all make sense, or you'd wake up and it’s really Tiny Lister who’s the president.

So exactly how hip-hop is Donald Trump?  He’s probably the only billionaire business owner who doesn’t own a record label, isn’t a fashion or jewelry designer or maker of some top-shelf liquor, but whose name has made it into hundreds of rap songs.

He’s so hip-hop that for the better part of two decades, he’s not just been mentioned by any rappers at all, but has been name-checked repeatedly by some of the greatest of the greats in rap.  The website looked at all the mentions of Trump and Hillary Clinton in rap music since around the 1990s. The positive raps using Trump's name showed a dramatic drop between the late 1990s and now, naturally.

Looking back over the years, you see that Houston played a part in making Trump more hip-hop than many might want to admit. This is where we start.

The second track, "Boss," off Lil Keke’s 2008 album Loved By Few, Hated by Many, illustrates one of the most common uses of Trump’s name in ’90s rap songs, that of a hustler, leader, swagger artist. The title might also be a good way to sum up the current president’s poll numbers.

I’m on ridin’ wit my 12-gauge pump
Been a boss from the jump, go-getta like Trump

That line implies that Lil Keke, who also uses the name Don, is no one to mess with and rides around armed with a shotgun. He’s also been in charge of things basically from the beginning, when he decided to engage in being a “boss.” He caps off the line with reference to Trump’s enterprising nature.

No ’90s rapper from Queens was bigger than their borough-mate, Trump. His persona stretched way beyond the East Coast, however. Excess was served up in heaping amounts, enough that Trump became a symbol of the hustler’s dream. On the Scarface track “Money and the Power,” from Mr. Scarface Is Back, Trump gets a shout. The president’s name rhymes so well with "jump," as in getting a jump on something; and "pump," which in most rap contexts has to do with a 12-gauge shotty.

A dollar to be made, best believe a nigga made it
Nickels dimes and twenties, and sixty-cent bumps
Nigga rollin hard, stackin' paper like Trump
And I ain't give a fuck I told you that from the jump
Didn't worry about no static I had a motherfuckin pump

Scarface is equating his drug-dealing business with that of Trump’s real-estate empire, but — one small deal at a time — making money through drugs.

On another D-Boy anthem, the classic "Pocket Full of Stones" from U.G.K’s Too Hard to Swallow, Bun B uses the name Trump to refer to hits of cocaine (“bumps”) and, of course, “pump”-action shotguns.

Geekin' so bad I got pregnant fiends hoin’
Suck a dick and lick an ass just to get a bump
Fuck Black Caesar, niggas call me Black Trump
Pistol Grip pump in my lap at all times

Black Caesar is a seminal Fred “The Hammer” Williamson blaxploitation gangster film. Here Bun is saying that he doesn’t want to settle for the role of gangster who meets his demise at the end of the movie. Instead, the pre-Rice U religion professor wants to be on par with one of the richest New Yorkers at the time, Trump.

Finally, while Donald Trump is mainly associated with making money, one Houston rapper just refers to Trump by his television presence. Chamillionaire doesn’t even need to rhyme anything with Trump to make it work. The track “The Morning News” is simply a rundown of the garbage kind of morning television you’re forced to watch when you’re unemployed.

Terror alert, I stay dropping in that bombness
Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump stay arguing about nonsense

And there it is. Hip-hop had a visible role during this election news cycle. At one point, any one of us had Killer Mike, Kanye West and Jay-Z to look to for answers. CNN even dug up KRS-One to talk about Donald Trump.

Already a lot has been written about Obama being the first hip-hop commander in chief, and that’s got no argument, what with Obama discussing the future of black America with folks like Ludacris and Nicki Minaj.

But Trump, by virtue of his appeal to hip-hop artists, dedication to the lavish life and kinship with people who like to make lots of money, might be the most hip-hop president of all to enter the White House.

What’s left to be seen is which rappers President Trump issues official invites to sleep over in the Lincoln bedroom and such; the one obvious person who should make the list is Kanye West. Or maybe all the rappers who gave a free ad for the Trump International back in the day will get their due, as long as they’re still riding with Trump.
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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.