From Hip-Hop to Politics: A Good Idea?
The latest trend with former (and some current) hip-hop artists seems to be running for public office. While these personalities definitely seem to have the presence and dynamism to run a successful campaign, there are questions all affected voters should be asking themselves: Can they win? More importantly, do they have the leadership and organizational skills to be effective if they did win?
Luther Campbell, better known as Uncle Luke of the 2 Live Crew (and the Joe Francis of the urban community, having made a slew of adult films) is currently eying a run for mayor of Miami, FL. In order for him to do this, the city would first have to vote to recall Miami’s current mayor.
Campbell writes for a local newspaper, so he has a voice and most recently said:
“I’ve thought about running for public office before, but someone would always end up talking me out of it, saying, ‘We have this good person here, he will do good for the community,’ so I always backed out. But I’d end up frustrated because they didn’t do anything. I’d give them ideas and they would just tell me what I wanted to hear. I get in my car, ride around Liberty City, and everything looks the same as when I was in the neighborhood growing up. I see the same crimes in the same areas. Officers and residents are still getting killed in the community I grew up in.”
Of course, Campbell also has a surprising idea for strippers: Tax them.
“Even though all my stripper friends are gonna be mad at me, I think we can stimulate the economy with a tax on strippers. They make all this money and don’t pay taxes. I’d take that cash and put it into a fund where it supports youth athletics for girls like cheerleading or softball. Or it can go to help pay for existing little girls programs that are struggling to get government assistance.”
While rappers certainly have a talent for shedding light on the problems faced in society, does it necessarily mean they can fix them in political office?
Rapper/singer Wyclef Jean famously attempted to run for President of Haiti last year. The only thing he had done that came close to a qualification was releasing the song “President” back in ’04. He was denied the opportunity due to residency requirements and was enshrouded in allegations of misappropriation of funds concerning his charity, Yele Haiti. While we’re sure his intentions were good, we cannot be sure Jean had the skills or clout to help restore the ravaged country. In the world of politics (as well as the world in general), good intentions are just not enough to accomplish anything.
Chicago rapper Rhymefest is running for alderman of the 20th ward of his town and has been campaigning for the office since late last year. Having launched a Web site that shows him as a serious political contender and a man of the people, the man born Che Smith has a viral video presence which allows him to tell the stories of his neighborhood, connect with voters and enlist the help of friends and colleagues, such as Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, to help him get the word out. The big day for ‘Fest is Feb. 22, when we will know how useful his efforts have been by then.
Hip-hop certainly can aid one in running a political campaign, but hip-hop alone canot get the job done. Rappers with true and viable plans to better the community should certainly run for office while those who’d simply like to speak about the issues should stick to albums and mp3s.