Back Away From the Beatbox: Ben Carson's Rap, and Other Cringeworthy Pitfalls Of Political Pandering

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 7 years old.
Ben Carson, super cool dude.

Some days, you wake up and the swirling black hole that is Mother Internet has nothing but bad news for you: Natural disasters, gun violence, confirmation of the unholy sexual union between Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.

And some days, presidential hopeful Ben Carson's campaign team releases a minute-long rap song about Ben Carson.

According to ABC News, the Carson campaign spent $150,000 for the ditty -- which is called "Freedom" -- to air as a radio ad for two weeks on "urban" stations in Miami; Atlanta; Houston; Detroit; Memphis; Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

The rapper urging young hip-hop radio listeners to "vote" (and, upsettingly, to rhyme "Carson" with "awesome") over a flute riff and in between clips of Carson's stump speech is a guy by the name of Aspiring Mogul. The MC's website indicates that he's a youth minister and young black Republican, as well as an "original unique force within the GOP, one whom God has gifted on multiple levels of communication and political leadership." His hometown is #INTERNATIONAL. But nevermind Aspiring Mogul. Aspiring Mogul: This is not your fault.


Setting aside the hilarity specific to this situation -- "I know, let's take a candidate whose predominant idiosyncrasy is that his speaking style seems like he might be falling asleep and use his speech to make a rap song" -- this is really just the latest in a long line of politicians who are neither hip nor young attempting to pander to hip young #Millennial voters and instead mainly succeeding in making us all want to stuff cotton in our ears and hide beneath our desks for the rest of the day in embarrassment. And under that vast umbrella of pandering: Mega-pandering to young minority voters via allusions to and/or attempted uses of hip-hop that most likely made Tupac roll over in his grave.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Our first stop is an inexplicable rap song about Newt Gingrich that played during a Gingrich campaign stop in Florida over the course of his 2012 presidential run. (And henceforth, everyone thought of Newt Gingrich as a super-cool, urban -- wait, nevermind.)

Sample lyric: "N to the E to the WT/Newt Gingrich taking over these streets/Is you ready for it yet?/I don't think so, where you at?
Obama 'bout to step out the White House/Gingrich gonna get in the White House/He gon' have his wife, his spouse/Yeah, you know without a doubt."

Here's former Bush II Advisor Karl Rove, transforming into "MC Rove" at the 2007 Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner. Dare you to make it through the whole video!

Here's Mitt Romney referencing a then-12-year-old novelty rap song on a campaign stop in 2012 for no apparent reason (other than that he's meeting young black people?).

Hillary is no stranger to young people-pandering, of course -- especially in this election cycle, which finds her on a desperate quest to prove that she's not literally made out of wood. Thus far her tactics include associations with hip young persons Katy Perry and Lena Dunham. And yet: this "whip/nae nae" attempt from Ellen a few weeks ago is the one that really sends us scrambling for cover.

Back to 2008: If someone hasn't looped John McCain saying "Thank you, Daddy Yankee" and used it on their own song yet I will eat my hat.

And last but certainly not least: This clip of Jeb Bush helping Jimmy Fallon out with a "Slow Jam the News" segment isn't technically hip-hop, to be sure -- but it more than makes up for that when it comes to making us want to gouge our eyes out rather than having to look at a politician's meaty, vacant face in the background while Fallon makes sex jokes!

So, what have we learned here today?

Yes, President Obama has managed to make hip-hop references and still come off cool.

Obama is Obama. He is actually friends with Jay Z.

Everyone else? Might want to actually, you know, work on coming up with stances that young people can objectively weigh against your competitors' stances, for the purpose of deciding which policies would, if enacted, fall in line most closely with our own goals, beliefs and values. Imagine for a second that we're still people -- simply people who were born later than you.

In the meantime: brb, hitting play on that Carson song again. It doesn't sound like the candidate will be responsible for racking up any listens himself.