Donald Trump in music

Donald Trump in music refers to songs, albums and bands that refer to Donald Trump and his various brands, including Trump Tower, his TV show, his hotel chain, and his casinos.[1] Though recent songs refer to Trump's campaign and subsequent election as president of the United States, more than 200 songs refer to Trump prior to his successful presidential campaign between 1989 and 2013.[2] With his victory in the 2016 presidential election, Trump's prominence in hip-hop music has been likened to that of Ronald Reagan's in hardcore punk during the 1980s.[3]

Background[]

Hip hop[]

Trump's name first appeared in hip hop lyrics during the 1980s when the business mogul became an icon of the ultra rich. Among the earliest mentions of Trump in rap lyrics was the Beastie Boys' 1989 track "Johnny Ryall", in which they pit Donald Trump alongside his homeless alter-ego, Donald Tramp.[2]

While many rappers praise Trump's wealth, usually comparing their own financial aspirations or success to that of the billionaire businessman, others have used their music as a platform to criticize Trump's practices and politics.[4] Among the earliest of these was The Coup from Oakland, California, who critiqued and mocked Trump on their first two albums released in the early 1990s.[1]

ESPN's political site FiveThirtyEight documented that between 1989 and 2014, 19% of song lyrics about Trump were negative while 60% were positive. The 2010s marked a shift in hip hop musicians' attitude toward Trump as his presence in the public eye changed from a business tycoon to a politician making controversial statements against people of color, Latin American people, and Muslims. Because of hip hop's close association with these communities and its reinvigorated politicization with the Black Lives Matter movement, lyrical depictions of Trump rapidly grew to be more disparaging throughout his campaign and subsequent election as President of the United States.[1]

Many artists have name-checked Trump in more than one song. Pre-presidency, Rick Ross had the most Trump mentions (nine songs between 2008 and 2015) with Nas running second (seven songs between 1996 and 2012). Other major Trump name-checkers include Migos (six songs between 2013 and 2016), Young Thug (six songs between 2013 and 2015), Lil Wayne (five songs between 2000 and 2012) and Raekwon (five songs between 1995 and 2012).[1]

Mac Miller controversy[]

The numerous references to Trump in lyrics have not gone unnoticed by the billionaire. When Mac Miller's 2011 song "Donald Trump" became a Billboard hit, Trump released a YouTube video congratulating the rapper:

A lot of people are calling me about the Mac Miller rap song. Now, it's named "Donald Trump." Maybe you should pay me a lot of money, but it just did over 20 million people, tuning into Mac Miller. So in one way, I'm proud of him. I haven't actually seen the language... Probably, it's not the cleanest language you've ever heard... But the "Donald Trump" song just hit over 20 million, that's not so bad. I'm very proud of him.[5]

As the song garnered more plays, Trump took a more aggressive tone and demanded royalties for using his name, thereby starting a feud with Miller.[6] In early 2013, Trump threatened the rapper via a series of exchanges on Twitter:

Little @MacMiller, you illegally used my name for your song “Donald Trump” which now has over 75 million hits.
I want the money not the plaque you gave me!
I’m now going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance. You ungrateful dog!
I have more hair than you do and there’s a slight age difference.[7]

In 2015 Trump changed his attitude toward Miller again when he ended an interview with The Hill by praising Miller's song as it approached 100 million hits.[8]

Other styles of music[]

Outside of hip hop, most lyrical references to Trump have appeared in songs ranging from satires of the billionaire, to outright protest in varying degrees of explicitness. One of the earliest Trump send-ups was the 1990 ballad "Donald Trump (Black Version)" written by Prince for fellow Minneapolis act The Time in which singer Morris Day calls himself a black version of Donald Trump, who can use his riches to "fulfill [a woman's] every wish, [and her] every dream".[9] In 1992 Irish folk-rock group Goats Don't Shave had a #4 hit with "Las Vegas in the Hills of Donegal," which references Trump's casino business in imagining an Irish county that becomes a gambling mecca.[10]

More recently, songs like "Fergus Laing" by Scottish folk singer Richard Thompson present thinly veiled references to Trump without mentioning him by name, while songs like "Fucked Up Donald" by Canadian punk band D.O.A. are more direct. Many songs attack Trump by mocking his supporters through stereotypical portrayals of their views and lifestyles. Phoenix-based comedian Brian Nissen comedian stars as "Mullets Over America" spokesman Dwain in the music video "Make America Great Again", while Rocky Mountain Mike's cover of "Mr. Tambourine Man" remakes the lyrics to be about Trump, with the song's title alluding to the color of his skin. Sung from the perspective of a xenophobic Trump supporter, the song opens:

Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, build a wall for me
I'm not that bright and don't know that you're not going to
Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, keep Muslims away from me
With my jingoistic worldview, I'll come following you.[11]

In October 2016, author Dave Eggers launched a project slated to release one anti-Trump song each day leading up to 2016's election day. Originally called 30 Songs, 30 Days, Eggers' plan was to have each song performed by a different artist, but due to more musicians coming through with songs, it grew to be 40, and then 50 songs in 30 days.[12][13] Eggers worked on the project with Jordan Kurland with whom he had previously worked on two similar election-related projects.[14][15][16] Eggers' inspiration for the project came when attending a Trump rally in Sacramento earlier that year.[17] Participating artists included Death Cab for Cutie, Aimee Mann, Bhi Bhiman, Jim James, Franz Ferdinand, Josh Ritter, Thao Nguyen, EL VY, R.E.M., Adia Victoria, Moby, Lila Downs, Mac McCaughan, Tim Bluhm, Vinnie Paz, Jesu, Sun Kil Moon, Filthy Friends, Radioinactive, Sheila Brody, Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird, Mirah, clipping., Sam Cohen, Blake Hazard, Wesley Stace, Loudon Wainwright III, Cold War Kids, Reggie Watts, Mission of Burma, Bob Mould, Ryan Miller, The Long Winters, Open Mike Eagle, Jimmy Eat World, Kyle Craft, Local Natives, Anthony D'Amato, Greg Holden, Laura Gibson, Tim Heidecker, Modern Baseball, Joe Purdy, and Rogue Wave.[18]

In June 2017, Compound Sound LLC released Trumped Music, a 32-minute album of eight songs which are Fair Use parodies of famous hit songs throughout the years. These songs are sung by impressionist Christopher John as 'Donald Trump', with several tracks also featuring impressionist Andrew Harris as 'Vladimir Putin'.[19]

Songs that mention Donald Trump[]

1980s[]

1990s[]

2000–2009[]

2010–2014[]

2015–2016, during Trump's presidential race and election[]

2017[]

Pre-existing songs modified to be about Donald Trump[]

See also[]

References[]

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