Rappers might throw jabs at each other, but throughout history, they've shown that they've got no qualms about speaking truth to power, specifically speaking about the President of the United States of America at the time.
For years we've heard hip-hop artists use their platforms to deliver scathing critiques towards the leaders of the free world, whether it's President Donald Trump, George W. Bush or even Barack Obama. These challenges can come in the form of either a social media post, an interview, an Instagram Live session or even a song. Really, they can come from anywhere, and once they do, the message resounds with fans from all over.
With millions of followers and often at least as many fans, rappers are in a unique position to call out those in power. If Cardi B can check a president in front of her entire audience, then there's pretty much no way to duck the bad press and there's nothing they can do to silence the story.
Fifteen years ago, Kanye West famously name-checked Bush on national television, while just about a year before that, Eminem used an album single to to deliver some harsh words to the same prez. Cardi B, who's been known to voice her opinions on the issues, used an Instagram video for the same purpose. There are more instances where these come from, and now, ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election, is the perfect time to take a look at them.
Today, XXL takes a look at the many times rappers challenged a president in office. Check out the list for yourself below.
Kanye West Calls Out George W. Bush on National Television
During a Sept. 2, 2005 telethon fundraiser to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West took a moment to get very real. While his cohost, actor Mike Myers, was speaking, Kanye suddenly took a moment to go at then-U.S. President George W. Bush for his response to the natural disaster.
“George W. Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” Yeezy said as Myers looked on, shocked.
The moment ended up making Kanye look really good to rap fans. Years later, in his autobiography, Bush said it was one of the worst moments of his presidency.
Lupe Fiasco Calls President Barack Obama a Terrorist
Lupe Fiasco’s always been outspoken, but he took things to a new level when he called then-President Barack Obama a terrorist. During an appearance on CBS News on June 7, 2011, Lupe was asked about the political content of his song "Words I Never Said."
"My fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is [President Barack] Obama in the United States of America," Lupe explained at the time. "I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's actually causing the other forms of terrorism. You know, the root cause of terrorism is the stuff the U.S. government allows to happen. The foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists."
Predictably, Lupe faced some serious backlash for the comment. During a September 2020 Instagram Live session, he said he lost a deal with Ferrari because of the comment. Years beforehand, in 2014, Lupe said he didn't regret the comments.
Eminem Disses Trump in a Freestyle on TV
Slim Shady had enough of Trump. That was clear when he called out the President for a special a cappella freestyle aired at the BET Hip Hop Awards in October of 2017. In the freestyle, Em disowns any fan of his who supports the controversial president.
In the freestyle, which has been dubbed "The Storm," he raps: "And any fan of mine who's a supporter of his/I'm drawing in the sand a line, you're either for or against/And if you can't decide who you like more and you're split/On who you should stand beside, I'll do it for you with this: Fuck you!" Sheesh.
Cardi B Bashes President Donald Trump for Not Paying Workers During Government Shutdown
Back in January of 2019, Cardi B had some words for President Trump after the polarizing prez didn't pay federal workers during a government shutdown.
"Trump is now ordering federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid," Cardi said in a video she uploaded to her Instagram account. "I don't wanna hear y'all muthafuckas talking about, 'Oh, Obama shut down the government for 17 days.' Yeah, bitch, for federal healthcare. So your grandma could check her blood pressure and you bitches could go check your pussies at gynecologists with no muthafuckin' problem. Now, I know a lot of y'all don't care 'cause y'all don't work for the government or y'all don't have a job. But this shit is really fuckin' serious bro. This shit is crazy. Our country is in a hell hole right now. We really need to take this shit serious."
Cardi B has since endorsed former Democratic Presidential candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president.
Eminem Eviscerates George W. Bush on a Song
Eminem's music has rarely slanted political, but when it was time to roll out his fourth studio album, he took aim at then-president George W. Bush with the first single. Released in October 2004—weeks before the 2004 Presidential Election—"Mosh" finds Em spit over a searing Dr. Dre-produced beat as he excoriates Bush for continuing to wage war in Afghanistan.
"They tell us, 'No,' we say, 'Yeah'/They tell us, 'Stop,' we say, 'Go'/Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell, we gon' let ’em know/Stomp, push, shove, mush, fuck Bush," Em spits on the track.
This isn't the last time Em would go directly at a president, but it was definitely a memorable moment.
Lil Wayne Takes George W. Bush to Task on a Freestyle
Being that he's from New Orleans, it's no surprise that Lil Wayne also had some words for George W. Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After all, N.O. was the most drastically affected by the series of floods. On "Georgia Bush," which was a freestyle over Ludacris' Field Mob-featured track "Georgia," Weezy criticizes Bush for his perceived lack of a response to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"Look at the bullshit we been through/Had our niggas sitting on top their roofs/Hurricane Katrina, we should've called it Hurricane (Georgia) Bush/Then they telling y'all lies on the news/The white people smiling like everything cool/But I know people that died in that pool/I know people that died in them schools," Weezy raps on the Dedication 2 cut.
Jadakiss Accuses George W. Bush of Being Responsible for 9/11
George W. Bush really wasn't feeling the love from rappers while he was in the White House. In his Anthony Hamilton-assisted 2004 song "Why?" Jadakiss accuses Bush of being responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City. On the track, Jada raps, "Why do niggas push pounds and powder?/Why did Bush knock down the towers?"
In a 2015 interview, Jada admitted that he didn't actually know whether what he said was true, but he did say he thought there were more nefarious things at play.
Jay-Z Calls Out George W. Bush on “Minority Report”
Kanye West wasn't the only person who was upset with the White House's response to Hurricane Katrina. On Jay-Z's song "Minority Report," released on his Kingdom Come album in November 2006, Hov accuses Bush of mistreating survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
"And the next five days, no help ensued/They called you a refugee because you seek refuge/And the Commander-in-Chief, just flew by/Didn't stop, I know he had a couple seats," Hov raps.
T.I. Hires Melania Trump Look-alike for Album Promo
After calling out Kanye West for meeting with President Trump once again in October of 2018, T.I. created a video making fun of the president. For the video, he hired a Melania Trump look-alike and had her get naked while he’s sitting in a faux Oval Office. He posted the video to his Twitter account with the message: “Dear 45, I ain’t Kanye.” A rep for Trump called the video disgusting, but Tip, who used the video to promote his new Dime Trap album, didn’t care all that much.
About two years later, in 2020, Trump used Tip’s song "Whatever You Like" to make an anti-Joe Biden campaign video.
Chuck D Bashes Trump With a Song
Chuck D is essentially the first major conscious rapper, so it's no surprise that he's dissed President Trump. On Public Enemy's 2020 song, "State of the Union (STFU)," Chuck D calls out Trump for what he thought was stoking racial tensions. He doesn't say Trump's name, but he does include clips of the president giving speeches.
Jeezy Calls Out Trump for Coronavirus Response
Jeezy was not feeling President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic this year. In an April 3 interview with MSNBC, Jeezy said that Trump's response to the global catastrophe was driven by his ego.
"For me, I've seen those type of people in my life. Trump, he's one-of-a-kind ’cause it takes a different type of leader to make things about him," Jeezy said at the time. "I feel like a lot of times you see his ego. Right now, you know, it's about the people. To me, you talking about 'Make America Great.' We gon' make America greater than it's ever been with or without him. He gotta understand that. We are the people. You are one person and we get it. But this is not about you right now. We all in this together. You know, all of us. We have to make this about us, not about [Trump]."
Killer Mike Calls President Trump a “Dumbass”
During a press conference amid the riots in Atlanta—outbursts triggered by a wave of nationally publicized police brutality against Black men and women this year—Run The Jewels member Killer Mike took some time to call out President Donald Trump.
During a speech that lasted just over eight minutes, Mike called Trump a "dumbass president." Watch the rapper make the remark at the 7:32-mark below
Chance The Rapper Denounces Trump for President’s Proud Boy Comments
During his Sept. 29 debate with Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Trump raised some eyebrows after he seemingly sidestepped the chance to denounce a White supremacist group. That same day, Chance The Rapper used his Twitter account to call out Trump's actions.
In the tweet, Chance wrote: "The entire country has to make a decision as to whether it will continue to downplay the fact that our President is an openly racist White Supremacist and what that means for its citizens, or… VOTE HIM OUT."
Check out the tweet below.
Snoop Dogg Literally Clowns President Trump
Snoop Dogg effectively called President Trump a clown in March of 2017. That's when he dropped his video for "BadNotGood," which features a Trump look-alike as a clown named Ronald Klump addressing the media during a press conference.
Plies Mocks Trump for Catching Coronavirus
On Oct. 1, President Trump, whom many have accused of underestimating the significance of the coronavirus, announced that he'd contracted the sickness.
In a livestreaming session on social media, Plies mocked Trump by being sarcastic and making fun of Trump's perceived refusal to follow directions and take the coronavirus seriously.