Your typical Hip-Hop head tends to support the Democratic party and diametrically opposes to the Republican party. Certainly not an absolute assertion but certainly holds its ground in the face of public opinion. One must consider the affects of Reaganomics in the 80’s, when Hip-Hop truly became vocal, as a hard reason for Hip-Hop lack of affection for the party of the elephant. “Reagan is the pres, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm,” Biz Markie rapped in 1988.
After the administration of George H. W. Bush, one would assume that there would be a permanent divorce from the conservative Right. Not so fast. In 2009, the rise of the Hip-Hop Republican became apparent and the centerpiece of the shift was Michael Steele, the newly-minted chairman of the Republican National Committee. He maintains a decidedly Hip-Hop swagger for a 51-year old Republican.
Steele told AllHipHop.com his style as a Republican leader has some very Hip-Hop qualities:
“My style is to push the envelope. As a Republican, certainly as an African American to try to create a new synergy, a new dynamic where there is a conversation. Everybody’s not going to believe that I believe and I don’t want them to. That’s not what America’s about. What I like is the opportunity to say, here’s some ideas, something fresh – and again, that’s what Hip-Hop does.”
“This is a new way of putting expression on what’s going on in the community. The same is true for us in the [Republican] Party. Now is the time to put a new expression on the way things are going. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
On the content of Hip-Hop:
“I think things that are going on in the Hip-Hop community are very interesting stuff. There’s a very exciting energy. A lot of folks – on a peripheral level, a very thin skinned level – look at the music and look at the artists and that’s how they judge what its really about. If you pull all that back, you’ll see there’s huge economic synergies going on there. Wealth creation potential that’s enormous. In the past, you know, you have young players like yourself that create something and someone else comes along and takes it and makes the most money from it. Now, you’re creating it, you’re packaging it, you’re owning it, you’re branding it and you’re reaping the benefits of it and that’s what I love about what’s real about Hip-Hop.”
Steele on being lampooned by Saturday Night Live in 2009.
“You take it as it comes. I didn’t see it as so much of a lampoon as acknowledging that the brother’s here and we’re going to have to deal with him and that’s it,” he admitted.
“I think the president has done some very good things. I’m concerned with some things related to the economy. We have very different views about spending and I can say that as a Republican that chastised the party for spending the way they did under Bush. But I think obviously, his moment in history can’t be taken from him.”
Nas featuring Jay-Z – “Black Republican” (featuring a monologue by Chris Tucker)
Jay-Z and Nas recorded a track called “Black Republican,” yet both legendary artists went on the road to to woo the Hip-Hop and pop constituency to vote for now-president Barack Obama. Perhaps in 2012, Steele can sway the Hip-Hop Nation in the opposite direction.