Rappers Have Bark, But No Bite

Their machismo is confined to the studio.

Rappers and Trump have a lot in common. To their followers, they are tough, take no nonsense manly men! But that view does not extend to those outside their orbit. Thinking of Trump as a tough guy is laughable. I can’t imagine any universe where he would remotely be considered anything but a sniveling coward hiding behind money and power. Trump is at an age where the lines between males and females are blurred, and he comes across as an old angry woman. Rappers do not fare better. They only seem to be tough around their own fans. They project this street toughness image by bragging about their sexual conquest, violence, their cars, money, Glocks, gold chains, and their disdain for law enforcement. Don’t believe the hype.

But their toughness exists only in the studio. Once they leave the studio, they rush home to hide like Cinderella, so no one can see what they really are. Out in the real world, far away from the sound stage and music videos, they are basically a bunch of wimps. In movies, they are often the comic relief, the wise-cracking jokesters playing second fiddle to the white hero. These roles are not very different from the roles Blacks portrayed 60 years ago. Politics, to them, is like water to fire.

They rarely take a strong political stance. For rappers, it is all about making money. If they are asked a pressing question, they will dodge it. They do not want to offend anyone. Taking a strong political stance may take money out of their pocket.

Ice Cube is a person I have been listening to for a long time, and he is a person I still admire. He just made a bad judgment. He has that mean scrawl and that dead-pan delivery. It seems Ice Cube is always angry. This is the guy who proclaimed “Fuck the police” and even called the Statue of Liberty a “lazy bitch.” But it is all an act. He really does not have to be angry about anything. He probably has not been angry for a long time. These days he’s fat and happy. Ice Cube is an extremely successful businessman in the industry with music, movies, television, and sports.

However, like many artists, he wants to remain relevant, so he puts together an initiative, like many other entertainers. These endeavors are a lame attempt to make it seem that they are doing great things for the community. But most of the time, these are toothless programs that rarely incubate beyond the publicity it attracts initially. Because of his Contract With Black America policy's popularity, the Trump campaign had been consulting with Ice Cube on its own proposals to win over Black voters. This is even though Trump is a racist, and there is a chance that his presidency will only last a few more weeks. Ice Cube’s reasoning was weak; he is willing to talk with anyone in charge, and “right now, Trump is in charge.”

Perhaps entertainers are afforded too much power and respect from their fans. Their power is unearned, and few live up to the words that they make their living with. It is the money that drives them. Rapper 50 Cent publicly supported Trump and later (after backlash) said, “Fuck Trump.” But it was too late; he already expressed where his head was at.

Rappers are not the only entertainers that are tough on the outside and soft on the inside. Trump called the Black NFL players “sons of bitches,” because they protested police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. There are enough Black NFL players to bring the entire league to its knees. There are not enough scab (replacement) players in the world to replace them, and even if they tried, it would be unwatchable. The NFL would lose hundreds of millions of dollars. However, there was some rumbling, but the game went on anyway. It is the money that they are afraid to lose. Michael Jordon was often criticized for not taking a stand against racism or any other topic that caused controversy. But like many athletes, he was more interested in protecting his brand and his bank account.

But it is the rappers, those tough guys who always act as though they are the toughest motherfuckers on earth, most surprisingly silent during this time of strife for African Americans. Who could have used some of these tough guys when some of these armed militia groups turn up in cities all across America. I did not see them in Kenosha, and I didn’t see them in Portland, I didn’t see them in Louisville, I didn’t see them in Charlottesville.

Rapping is a business, after all. Most do not rap about political strife. You will not hear many rap songs about jobs, income, poverty, healthcare, or housing. You can’t really be authentic rapping about these things when you are a millionaire. Fans can feel it when a performer is phony. But you will hear many songs about violence, sex, jail, cars, and money. So it is no surprise that standing up to the president, getting involved in politics, or openly and strongly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is not something they are prone to do. The reason for this situation is that rappers are basically apolitical.

Of course, there are rappers out there doing their part to make things better. And many have always been outspoken about law enforcement and the judicial system. However, they rail against these problems only after they themselves have been victims of the system. This is not too different when other famous people suddenly turned Black (or felt Black) after getting caught up in the judicial system, such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and Clarence (high-tech lynching) Thomas.

Common — Putting the work in across the country

Lil Pump, Waka Flock and Lil Wayneare supporters of Trump. In the big picture, it may be harmless that these C list rappers endorse Trump, but the message they are sending out should be listened to by their fans. For the most part, their fans are not the type of people the Trump administration supports. Trump once bragged about how many rap songs he is mentioned in. We have to remember that many rappers come from humble beginnings, and they instantly admire almost anyone that is perceived to rich (especially if they have a little swag). It makes no difference if he is a pimp, drug dealer, or even a murderer. Rappers like Lil Pump and Waka Flock are suffering from a type of Stockholm syndrome.

However, other rappers are making a positive contribution, such as Common, crisscrossing the country and encouraging people to vote. And other rappers have been involved in politics long before the election, such as Killer Mike, Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, and others. Kanye West is also involved in politics, but that’s another story.

Jay-Z is a rarity, a mega-star that has both critical and financial success. But more importantly, he has power. His power goes way beyond the ability to fill a stadium. If he ever decided to step away from entertainment and go into politics, I cannot think of another person that could do more to galvanize an underutilized base. He has the street cred, the business acumen, and at the same time, he represents the proletariat, which happens to be the vast majority of Americans. If he ever decides to leave the stage and bright lights, he could be a game-changer for this and future generations. But even if that happens, he’ll never save the reputation of the soft-as-cotton rappers. Their names are already etched in history books, like Benedict Arnold.



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Thomas Holt Russell

Thomas Holt Russell

Humanist, educator, writer, photographer, and modern-day Luddite. http://thomasholtrussell.zenfolio.com/ My writing is a living organism.