Politics and Hip Hop – a special relationship?
Politics permeates into everything. Here at Keakie we’ve always understood Hip Hop as a political and cultural movement. However, the spheres of Politics and Hip Hop seem ever more connected in 2016 with the impending US Presidential Election this November. Several Hip Hop artists have endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton for the top job such as rapper Pusha T who released a clothing line called ‘Delete Your Account’ in reference to Clinton’s tweet and West Coast Rapper YG who released a song unapologetically titled ‘F*ck Donald Trump’ in support of the former First Lady who now aims to make history by becoming the first female President of the United States.
A rather classy endorsement for her presidency came from an insightful interview carried out by Hip Hop/ Soul Queen Mary J Blige released on Apple’s Beats One this week. Expected to release an album before going on tour with RnB legend Maxwell, Blige kicked off the first in her new series called ‘The 411’ – the name in reference to her critically acclaimed 90’s album ‘What’s the 411?’
Initially met with raised eyebrows following a questionable trailer released earlier in the week, this interview is certainly a must watch for any voter. Fresh from her victory in the first presidential debate against Donald Trump, in this interview Clinton was presented in a completely different light. It was refreshing. Clinton appeared totally relaxed and at ease, it was actually Mary J Blige who appeared the nervier of the two admitting she has been a fan of Clinton’s since singing for her at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Initially it was strange seeing Blige as the interviewer rather than the interviewee; however, there was a lot of value in the discussion. Blige persistently highlighted how inspired she is by Clinton representing women on the highest platform in Politics; a traditionally male dominated industry – something the pair share in common with Blige enduring a long but successful career in a the male - dominated Hip Hop industry.
Society is too hard on strong successful women. Forced into the dichotomy of being either too tough or not likeable enough, women in leading roles in society are not being recognised enough for the right reasons. The two women connected on issues affecting successful women such as dealing with personal problems in the public eye. Blige being a victim of domestic abuse in her previous relationship with Jodeci singer K Ci and going through a messy divorce with her current husband Kendu Isaacs and Clinton having dealt with her own marriage problems publicly with her husband President Bill Clinton being impeached for having sexual relations with an intern in a scandal which plagued US Politics in the 90s. Clinton said: ‘The public eye has a way of magnifying things that aren’t important and dismissing things that are.’ However, despite these challenges both women have found success in their careers – Blige being a nine time Grammy award winner and Clinton on the brink of making political history in just under a month.
However, a few questions were certainly thrown into the mix in a blatant attempt to make Clinton seem more personable – a common criticism from her opponents is her lack of relatability. She revealed that her current music playlist is dominated by the soundtrack for the play ‘Hamilton and her favourite show being ‘House of Cards.’ A nice attempt but I’m sure her critics will see through this pandering.
Also on the agenda was the Black Lives Matter movement and US gun reform which Blige pushed Clinton to discuss following the recent killings of unarmed black men by the police in America. The pair discussed the racial divide in America and Blige felt so convicted that she even burst out in song – singing a cover of Bruce Springstein’s ‘American Skin’ which expressed her pain about the injustices facing African Americans. On racial inequality Secretary Clinton said: ‘There needs to be a greater opening of our hearts to one and other and feel the pain that a mother and daughter, I particularly want white people to understand what’s that like and feel that they can be part of the solution. On gun reform she pledged to continue Obama’s legacy and fight for better gun control laws in America.
A Woman’s Touch?
There is no one more qualified to be President of the United States than Hilary Clinton. Outgoing US President Barack Obama said this in almost as many words and although Clinton may not possess a perfect track record, she is experienced and compared to Donald Trump, it is clear that she is the more suitable candidate. Some may see it cynically as Clinton trying to gain more black votes by appearing on a Hip Hop platform; however, the interview does seem like a candid insight into her progressive attitude and positive intentions to unite a country which is right now very divided. She seems to be the candidate more likely to unite the people. Perhaps like in the UK, it is time for the US to have a woman’s touch – either way it is essential that if eligible you register to vote this month. This election will shape the future of the world.