Find-the-Matrix: Black Rappers for Trump

Transpartisan Note #137

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

We offer the Transpartisan Matrix as a descriptive, analytical, and energetic snapshot of contemporary American politics. Take a look at NY Times opinion writer Joe Coscarelli’s latest piece, Lil Wayne, Latest Rapper in Trump’s Orbit, Sees Backlash Over Photo from October 30th, 2020 and find the Matrix.

Coscarelli’s article reports how several powerful rappers (including Lil Wayne, Kanye West, 50 Cent, and Ice Cube) flirt with, embrace, or endorse President Trump and explores the backlash they received from other influential musicians and ardent fans.

The article, epically in its last paragraphs, captures the dynamic of the matrix – individual and structural pressures working on the Republican Right and the Democratic Left undulate across the political horizon. Successful outcomes for communities, we believe, result when politics integrates all four of the Matrix quadrants.

Those last paragraphs read:

In an interview, the writer, filmmaker and activist Dream Hampton called it “the hubris of the celebrity” for rappers to “kind of saunter in during the fourth quarter, talking about making demands.” She noted that while Black men will still overwhelmingly vote for Democrats – Mr. Biden leads 78-11 among Black men, according to a recent Times/Siena poll – a macho affinity for President Trump and the allure of economic success could explain his inroads with a certain segment of the hip-hop community.

“It’s the same reason they were referencing him in the ’90s – it’s about the lie of the American dream,” she said. “It’s about the lie of Black entrepreneurship somehow being a panacea to these larger social problems. Hip-hop became a stand-in for that, lifting up individual Black accomplishment.”

We think that the Transpartisan Matrix contributes to understanding what happened on November 3rd. Two days after the election, NY Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote:

…the surprise of this election. Although it is still too early to make any definitive statement about the shape of the electorate (broad white support for Trump notwithstanding), it is clear that the president made modest inroads with Black and Hispanic voters, especially men. This is most apparent in the states of Florida, Georgia and Texas, where Trump outperformed his 2016 totals in several areas where Hispanic voters make up a majority.

We don’t yet know why Trump made those gains — although the aforementioned performances, which figured prominently in his outreach to those groups, may have something to do with it — but this shift is a useful reminder that politics does not move along a linear path. For all of our data, the political world is still a fundamentally unpredictable place.

We use the Matrix to provide a view of the voting from an angle different from Red/Blue, Republican /Democrat, Conservative/Progressive, or any other dualities.  We see dualities as overly linear. We see the Matrix as a small step toward guiding the breakout from dualism.

Read about Lil Wayne’s outreach to President Trump and Find-the-Matrix.

(Images of President Trump [public domain] and Lil Wayne by Chris Allmeid [CC BY-SA 4.0] found on Wikimedia Commons.)

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