If revolution had a movie, I'd be theme music... One of rap's most enduring figures, Common, uttered these words on record nearly five years ago. Maybe he was on to something. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, so every major movement in life should, in turn, have a corresponding set of sounds to complement it. The Republican Party and its ideals are increasingly gaining popularity in America. Interestingly, so is rap music. Both forms of expression, republicanism and rap, are often looked at with disdain by those who don't understand them, and, coincidentally, rappers and Republicans tend to give each other a bad rap. If one examines both movements closely, however, the parallels between their respective messages are overwhelming. Therefore, I think it is only fitting that the Republican Party formally adopt rap as its official theme music. A lot of you are probably wearing the Bush face right now (you know, that pitiful, interminable, confused look) so please allow me the opportunity to explain. I have based my suggestion on an ongoing study of the basic tenets of the Republican platform and years of listening to rap music. I will briefly address the correlations between the attitudes of rappers and Republicans in a few main areas and attempt to support my claim with meaningful real life examples. To be fair, I am no expert in either field but merely an enthusiastic observer.
Rappers and Republicans share attitudes such as, but not limited to:
- A vigorous support of private ownership and corporate activity
- Stark opposition to homosexuality
- A belief in the right to bear arms
- The principle of preemptive attacks to protect one's way of life
- Support of strong family associations, and
- Promotion of the value of individual hard work, i.e., anti-affirmative action.
According to the 2004 Republican Party Platform obtained from the GOP website (www.GOP.com), the Republican Party is one aimed at "ushering in an ownership era." According to newly re-elected President George W. Bush, "the role of our government is to help our citizens gain the time and the tools to make their own choices and improve their own lives." As evidenced by his tax reduction measures, aimed at placing more of individuals' and corporations' income in their pockets instead of government coffers, President Bush is a man who believes in economic self-determination. This attitude is echoed in rap music. Countless songs promote the virtues of making one's own decisions and owning one's own businesses. Rap, a multibillion dollar industry, is one that has branched out from music to include clothing and footwear lines such as Russell Simmons' Phat Farm, film companies such as Damon Dash's Roc Films, and beverages such as Jonathan "Lil' Jon" Smith's Crunk Juice. Lines such as Jay-Z's on "Big Chips" from his and R. Kelly's Unfinished Business album highlight this prevailing line of thought: "Big Chips! I'm a boss I said..."
Over the years, the Republican Party has demonstrated its firm opposition to homosexuality, a lifestyle they deem inappropriate and detrimental to the fabric of American society. Evidence of this is clear, as seen in the recent measures passed in 11 states banning gay marriages. Rap music is overflowing with aversions to homosexuality. For example, Ghostface Killah proclaims on Supreme Clientele's "Mighty Healthy": "Men marrying men, ill, they got the urge..." Khujo of the Goodie Mob has a grimmer outlook on the subject on "Fly Away", a track from the Goodie Mob's "Still Standing": "Dirty men need to do more than bathe, how's about burned at the stake like the rest of those Sodomites? Even though you had beautiful kids and a wife, you still bent both ways." Although the promotion of violence against homosexuals isn't necessarily a Republican ideal, Khujo shares with many Republicans a biblical basis for his belief in the inherent wrongness of homosexuality. On the flip side, there is a nearly infinite pool of rap songs that endorse the heterosexual lifestyle.
The National Rifle Association, one of the Republican Party's staunchest support groups, is one that fights for the protection of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. They are among the fiercest opponents of gun control measures. The recent expiration of the 1994 assault weapons ban was met by the outcry of many Americans, including law enforcement officers. Despite much protest in favor of reinstatement of the ban, President Bush did not urge Congress to reinstate it. Apparently, he believes, as do many rappers, that individuals should have the right to have weapons to protect themselves and their families. 50 Cent explains the advantage of power weapons on a Get Rich Or Die Trying track entitled "Heat": "When they window roll down and that A.K. come out, you can squeeze ya lil' handgun until you run out, and you can run for your backup, but them machine gun shells gone tear your back up."
In keeping in line with the right to bear arms, on a global scale, an important principle espoused by the Republican Party for the protection of the country from international terrorists is the preemptive attack of terrorists and regions or governments that house them. The idea is simple here: get them before they get us. The perfect reflection of this is the chorus to Makaveli, a.k.a. 2Pac's "Bomb First" from his album The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory. It reads: "We bomb first when we ride. Please, reconsider 'fo you die. We ain't even come to hurt nobody tonight, but it's my life or your life, and I'ma bomb first..."
Republicans believe that a strong family is the basis for a strong nation. In his 2003 State of the State address, Florida Governor Jeb Bush remarked that "strong families make state programs less necessary and... partnerships within strong communities make state programs work better." In essence, what the governor is suggesting is that a tight familia unit can go a long way for empowerment and a positive station within society. The ultimate portrayal of the tight knit family is the Wu Tang Clan. (R.I.P., Ol' Dirty Bastard.) Consisting of nine MCs, the Wu Tang Clan took the rap world by storm upon their 1993 debut of Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers. The Clan's strength-in-numbers ethos manifested in the release of dozens of Wu-affiliated projects over the past decade that resulted in tens of millions of record sales worldwide. Additionally, the group's leader, the RZA, brokered an unprecedented deal with their label, Loud Records, allowing each member to pursue a solo career at the label of his choice. Over a decade later, the Wu Tang Clan have proven their strength through acting, writing, film scoring, etc. In addition, they were among the first rappers to develop their own clothing line when they introduced Wu Wear.
Last but not least, rappers and Republicans share the belief in the value of individual hard work in achieving goals. This is the backbone of American progress and ingenuity and is one of the hallmarks of a free society. This ideal, not racism as many often imply, is the reason the President opposes quota-based affirmative action programs. He believes that individuals should achieve based on their merits as opposed to their racial, ethnic, social, political, or economic backgrounds. Similarly, rappers invoke the spirit of individual effort. It is through initiative that people gain pride in their work and become self-sufficient. Snoop Dogg gave his rendition of this simple philosophy on "Gin and Juice" from his debut album Doggystyle: "Now that I got me some Seagram's gin, everybody got their cups, but they ain't chipped in. See, these types of things happen all the time. You gotta get yours, but, fool, I gotta get mine..."
Due to time and space constraints, I had to limit the depth of my argument, but, as you can see, the gap between the ideas of the mostly white, middle to old-aged Republicans are not that different from those of the mostly black, young to middle-aged rappers. In fact, these two, seemingly disparate groups embody the same spirit, one of freedom, self-determination, and heterosexuality. Given the recent displays of the strengths of both groups, rappers in motivating and organizing voters, and Republicans in attaining public office and influencing domestic and foreign policy, it may be in the best interests of both groups to band together in order to enhance their staying power. Perhaps, in the not so distant future, this dream of a possible unity will become a probable reality.
This piece was penned by Craig Black, a guest columnist. The views in this piece are not necessarily the views of BallerStatus.com or its staff.