Photo Credit: Tabatha Fireman | Getty Images
With Kanye West’s recent antics with President Donald trump, we decided to take a look back on standout moments between hip-hop and the White House. Read below as we detail controversial moments from J. Cole, Eazy E, Common, and of course, Ye.
From 2014 Forrest Hill Drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave
In 2014, J.Cole had already known why President Obama might not have been able to make the changes he, along with many others, felt were necessary. With 2 years still left in President Obama’s 2nd term, J.Cole was frustrated with what he had already seen so far. On The Late Show with David Letterman, J. Cole added an unreleased verse to his compassionate song, “Be Free.” During the performance J. Cole raps:
“We so elated, we celebrated like Obama waited until his last day in office to tell the nation, brothers is getting their reparations, hey
A man can dream, can’t he?
No disrespect, in terms of change I haven’t seen any
Maybe he had good intentions but was stifled by the system
And was sad to learn that he actually couldn’t bring any
That’s what I get for thinking, this world is fair
They let a brother steer the ship
And never told him that the ship was sinking.“
Mind you, the song was an expression of J.Cole’s emotions after the loss of Michael Brown. Needless to say, J.Cole was ahead of his time with this verse. That’s because 2 years later in his song, “High For Hours,” he received a response from President Obama about why he hasn’t been able to take a proactive approach to things that many felt he should have:
“I had a convo with the President, I paid to go and see him
Thinkin’ about the things I said I’d say when I would see him
Feelin’ nervous, sittin’ in a room full of white folks
Thinkin’ about the black man plight, think I might choke
Nope, raised my hand and asked a man a question
Does he see the struggle of his brothers in oppression?
And if so, if you got all the power in the clout
As the President, what’s keepin’ you from helpin’ niggas out?
Well, I didn’t say “nigga,” but you catch my drift
He looked me in my eyes and spoke and he was rather swift
He broke the issues down
And showed me he was well-aware
I got the vibe he was sincere and that the brother cared
But dawg, you in the chair, what’s the hold up?
He said, “There’s things that I wanna fix
But you know this shit, nigga: politics.”
From the very first bar J.Cole, makes a do a double take. Pay to see the President? Welp, according to J.Cole, celebrities such as himself do pay, and he was honest about it. Not only was his verse honest, but he apparently also held nothing back when it came to addressing his frustrations with the President stemming from 2014 and possibly earlier. J.Cole visited the White House in 2016 along with his fellow artists for the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. Let’s also take a second to admire that J.Cole didn’t feel the need to dress up and put his best suit on, it was just another in the Oval Office for him.
Eazy E’s visit to the Rep. WH in the 90s vs. Kanye West’s visit to the Rep. WH in 2018
A lesser known story, Kanye West was not the first rapper to be invited to the Republican White House. As hip-hop history tells it, Eazy E visited the White House in 1991. At the time, the President was George W.H. Bush, ironically the father of Kanye West adversary, George W. Bush. As the story goes, Eazy E donated approximately $2,500 to a Republican campaign and just happened to be on the mailing list for a random invite. Although it is probable that he wasn’t personally invited by Bush, we are also confident he didn’t make a fool of himself up there as well. Later on, Eazy E would go on to say in a Rolling Stone interview,
“How the fuck can I be a Republican when I got a song called ‘Fuck tha Police’? I ain’t shit—ain’t a Republican or Democrat. I didn’t even vote. My vote ain’t going to help! I don’t give a fuck who’s the president.”
Comparing how artists felt about politics back then and how they do now is night and day. Eazy’s response is telling of where hip-hop was at the time. Eazy E saying he didn’t vote nor does his vote matter would have T.I. livid, that’s for sure. This is a far cry from what the majority of artists are encouraging in 2018. 90’s rap was, “F*ck the System.” However, in 2018 the artist narrative is, “The system is f*cked, but let’s do our part to change it.” Let’s also be clear, politicians have also started to embrace hip hop, you saw Hilary pull out that hot sauce didn’t you?
Kanye partners w/ Donald Trump
If you were living under a rock the past few months, then you probably didn’t know that Kanye West visited the Republican White House recently. Over the past few months, Ye has been in the media for more than just music or sneakers, unfortunately. Recently, West visited the Republican White House in order to support the Music Modernization Act which is basically a law to update music copyright laws to effect digital platforms. The best way to describe this? Have you ever had a child come up to you and start telling you stuff you really aren’t trying to hear but you just keep fake listening to make them feel good? Well that would sum up Kanye West’s wild visit to Donald Trump. Kanye ranted about everything from bringing manufacturing back to America (Yeezy V2 Trainers are made in China), Trump flying on a new iPlane (Trump condescendingly laughed and said, “We’ll just get rid of Air Force 1 then”), and even how he saw a father figure in Trump.
this represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu
— ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018
Now, mental health is very sensitive so that’s why when Kanye blamed his recent comments on TMZ about slavery being a choice on his bipolar disorder, people were more forgiving than they should have been. Not only did he deflect back to his bipolar disorder but he also backpedaled on his statement as well. But Kanye is someone that has been given a pass many times after misspeaking, acting erratically, or ranting about his frustrations during concerts. Is it because he made “Jesus Walks”? Or because we still believe the man who rapped, “F*ck the police that’s how I treat ’em, we buy our way out of jail but we can’t buy freedom,” is still there somewhere? Either way, many of us have to be at our wits end defending Kanye West.
Common support for Tupac’s Godmother vs. The Media
In 2011 Common was called upon by Michelle Obama to perform at her “An Evening of Poetry” event. Sounds simple right? Wrong. In 2011, everything President Obama and his administration did was under a microscope. That’s why this was big news in 2011, not because it was Common performing, but because he was performing under President Obama’s administration. The reason media folks were outraged was because they felt that Common was some sort of radical for his support of Assata Shakur. Common’s support stems from his belief that she was unjustly charged for the murder of a cop in New Jersey in 1973. Although, Shakur escaped prison in 1979 and was granted Asylum in Cuba where she remains today. For his support, Common was painted by the media as un-American. It’s worth noting that looking back, the way politicians treated Common for a poem versus the way they treated Steve Bannon, a supporter of white nationalism, completely sums up the place America is today. Check out the dangerous poem Common read below.