Earlier this month, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy made news by rapping the Eminem hit “Lose Yourself” to an audience at the Iowa State Fair. The moment went viral and seemed to speak to Ramaswamy’s audacity and youth, which stand out in a field dominated by older rivals.
Problem is, Eminem himself is not a fan, and told Ramaswamy on Monday to stop using his song. It was only the latest instance of a popular musician informing a politician — usually a conservative — that they do not want their music politicized.
Read more on Yahoo News: These are the songs Republicans used at their campaign announcement rallies, via Desert News
The rise of ‘Da Vek’
Ramaswamy first started rapping at Harvard as “Da Vek,” using the musical genre to spread his libertarian beliefs. Although many of the other 2024 Republican presidential candidates seem to favor country music, they are also all older than Ramaswamy, and mostly white.
A child of Indian immigrant parents who was raised in Ohio, Ramaswamy combines contemporary cultural sensibilities with a hard-edged conservative message. In late July, he performed a freestyle rap on “Fox & Friends.” Though the performance was widely mocked on social media, it also separated Ramaswamy from candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the onetime establishment darling who has shown little charisma on the campaign trail and has seen support for his candidacy plummet.
Ramaswamy has defended his love of rap as a classically American pursuit. “There’s no such thing as one rap community,” he told the New York Times after his viral performance at the Iowa State Fair.
Read more on Yahoo News: Who is Vivek Ramaswamy, a rising GOP candidate in the 2024 presidential race?
No more, says Eminem
Eminem may not be the most politically engaged musician, but he is also not shy about his opinions either.
On Monday, the Detroit rapper told the Washington hopeful that he will have to find another song to sing on his way to the White House. In a letter from BMI, the perfomance rights organization that manages the rights to Eminem’s songs, the campaign was notified that the licensing agreement it had signed in late May has been canceled.
“To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady,” a Ramaswamy spokesperson told NBC News, referencing Eminem’s alter ego (his real name is Marshall B. Mathers III).
In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Ramaswamy said he would “respect his wishes,” but criticized the decision as antithetical to Eminem’s “anti-establishment” rise.
Read more on Yahoo News: 50 Cent Believes Eminem Deserves More Credit For Hip-Hop Contributions, via Vibe
Rap and politics
In early 2017, Snoop Dogg was criticized for a video in which he appeared to point a gun at a cartoonish figure resembling Trump. In response, the president called for “jail time.”
Later that year, at a hip-hop awards show hosted by Black Entertainment Television, Emimem lit into then-President Trump with a freestyle rap. “We love our military. We love our country. But we f***ing hate Trump,” he freestyled.
Perhaps the most famous confrontation between a rapper and politician took place in 2005, when Kanye West, known now as Ye, said that “George Bush does not care about Black people” during a live telethon to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In an unlikely twist, West would become something of an ally to Trump, meeting with him in 2018 in the Oval Office, where he launched into an extended and widely mocked rant.
A few rappers, including Lil Pump and Lil Wayne, have voiced support for Trump, but most of the hip-hop community was firmly against his administration.
Read more on Yahoo News: DaBaby Is Now A Trump Supporter: ‘I Need Him To Get My Cousin Out,’ via Vibe
‘The Boss’ would like a word…
Ramaswamy can at least take solace in the fact that he joins a long line of political candidates who have been told by musicians to stop using their music at events. Most of those politicians have been Republicans, which may reflect the fact that since the rise of the counterculture in the 1960s, popular music has been largely aligned with liberal sensibilities.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan referenced Bruce Springsteen at a campaign stop in Hammonton, N.J. — the home state of “the Boss.” His hit album “Born in the U.S.A.” had been recently celebrated by conservative columnist George Will. Springsteen would not emerge as a political voice for years to come, but he didn’t like being enlisted by Republicans, whom he blamed for many of the crises the hardscrabble characters in his songs struggled to overcome.
“I think people have a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what’s happening, I think, is that that need — which is a good thing — is getting manipulated and exploited,” he told Rolling Stone at the time.
Springsteen also had a zealous fan in Chris Christie, who governed New Jersey between 2010 and 2018. By then, Springsteen — an outspoken supporter of then-President Obama — made no effort to hide his politics, trolling Christie in a humorous song about his “Bridgegate” scandal.
In 2008, folk-rocker Jackson Browne said it was “entirely reprehensible” for Sen. John McCain of Arizona, then seeking the Republican presidential nomination, to use his song “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad. McCain was also criticized by the Foo Fighters for using their song “My Hero.”
During his first two presidential campaigns, Trump was fond of using the music of the Rolling Stones, in particular the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” an arguably odd choice for a politician fond of making grandiose promises.
The Stones told him to stop.
Read more on Yahoo News: How the Hip Hop Caucus is mobilizing voters for 2022