Hip-hop reacts to Trump: 'I'd rather an ugly truth than a beautiful lie'
Posted August 16
In hip-hop, not everyone wants white supremacists to remain silent and not everyone wants President Donald Trump to unequivocally condemn them.
"I'd rather an ugly truth than a beautiful lie," rapper and activist David Banner tweeted. The tweet echoed a sentiment he voiced the day after Trump won the general election: "This may be the best thing to ever happen to black people, maybe in history, because now there is no excuse. I think the veil of America has been ripped off. The fake mask has been ripped off."
During an off-the-cuff news conference Tuesday, Trump drew an equivalence between white supremacists and the protesters who condemned them -- a view he also voiced on Saturday -- by saying there was "blame on both sides" for violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
Trump's comments drew praise from David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and also caused a backlash of bipartisan outrage from lawmakers, who called on the President to declare that there's no equivalency between white supremacists and the people who oppose them.
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"Why do you wish someone else was in office? Is it so the snake can go back into the grass? No let it show its head so we can deal with it," Banner tweeted in response to the outrage, which rocked social media.
When images of torch-wielding white supremacists marching at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville went viral over the weekend, Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike shared a similar sentiment.
"Y'all can hate and wanna push them back into the dark but I wanna thank them for being honest. America is still the same place as 53 yrs ago," Killer Mike wrote on Instagram, and he criticized Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) in a separate post for calling for more restrictive gun laws.
"... any black politician who tells you to not be fire arms trained and owners is a paid agent of the state that has always allowed these men to murder the innocent. Stay ready. Fish, Farm, Hunt, Shoot," Killer Mike wrote, along with a picture of the white supremacist rally.
And in an Instagram post responding to the rally in Charlottesville, Chicago rapper Common called out those who said that racism is not a part of America.
"I heard a pundit on the news say, 'this isn't America!' BUT IT IS! This has been America since it began looking down on others (Native Americans, Black people, Latino People, Jewish People). This has always been apart of the American DNA," Common wrote, adding, "For sure there are other aspects to America that are beautiful, positive ... However, these ugly parts need to be addressed."
Killer Mike, Common and Banner's comments mirror a larger trend in how hip-hop is coming to terms with Trump's presidency.
These views are in no way an indication that hip-hop, which is ramping up its activism in the age of Trump, is accepting the President, but an indication that this community wants an honest conversation on race.
As Kendrick Lamar raps in the song "XXX" from his double platinum 2017 album, "Damn":
"Donald Trump's in office, we lost Barack and promised to never doubt him again. Is America honest, or do we bask in sin?"
Many in the hip-hop community who have been advocating for racial justice and equality for years welcomed what they considered to be a crucial coming-to-terms with America's dark past of slavery, segregation and civil unrest and how it still plays out today.
This sentiment is embodied in this lyric from Florida rapper Rick Ross' 2017 song "Apple of My Eye": "I'm happy Donald Trump became the President because we gotta destroy before we elevate."
Brooklyn rapper Joey Badass, who released the album "All-Amerikkkan Badass" in the spring, told CNN''s #GetPolitical in April that the rise of Trump has led to an "awakening" when it comes to the state of race relations in America and has caused a positive shift in hip-hop:
"I definitely feel like hip-hop is going through a change right now ... a lot of musicians are realizing and stepping up to the plate and, you know, almost accepting their responsibility, like OK, we are the leaders of the people. We are the voices. We speak for all of these people," Joey Badass said.
"I definitely think it's a change for the better and is definitely the silver lining in the gray cloud of everything that's happening in our current political climate," he added.
A week after Trump won the election, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, who said he reluctantly voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, told CNN's #GetPolitilcal that a Trump win could actually be a "good thing" because Trump was forcing America to come to terms with the fact that racism is alive and well -- and showing that Americans had to confront it.
"We're not able to hide behind myths of this being a post-racial society because Donald Trump has outlined exactly how a large portion of America feels," Mensa said. "They feel like they're losing their birthright as white people to be the masters of the universe, and they're losing this American dream that was sold to them where you're always supposed to have a leg up."
While some politicians use "neutrally worded messaging" to avoid controversy when discussing race relations, "Donald Trump came without a poker face," Mensa said, adding that Trump outlined his enemies clearly, which allowed supporters to no longer swallow or sugarcoat their racism.
Shortly before Election Day, Clinton supporter Common told CNN's #GetPolitical that there is a silver lining to the rise of Trump because the unleashed racism that has been "bubbling" underground in America and "sometimes it has to go to that dark place for us to get to that light."
"(Trump) supports some of the racist ideals that this country does have, and we've got to acknowledge that," the Chicago rapper said. "And I don't think it's a bad thing that this is brought out ... because we need to know it exists and stop acting like it doesn't and not be fooled because President Obama was in office."