A History of Rappers Beefing With Presidents

Dear Mr. President...

Rappers have proven over and over again that they are not afraid to use their platform as a tool used to promote activism. Throughout hip hop’s history, hip hop stars have shown that they aren’t afraid to address social issues, no matter how controversial, in their music. Songs like “F*ck the Police” by NWA or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” have caused issues with the government for their opposition to police brutality and unjust treatment to the Black community in America.

Some notable artists have even taken aim at the highest office in the land, calling out the POTUS. The criticism is usually a one way street, but there are some rare occasions when the Commander in Chief claps back and that toe-to-toe battle captures all our attention.

  • Snoop Dogg and Donald Trump

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    Snoop Dogg joins the vastly growing list of celebrities taking shots at Donald Trump. In early March, Snoop dropped a satirical music video for his single “BADBADNOTGOOD” in which he shoots an actor playing Trump with a toy gun. POTUS, of course, responded with one of his trademark Twitter responses taking shots at the rappers. With more than three years until the next election, it’s safe to say that we haven’t heard the last from these two.

  • Kanye West and George Bush

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    Perhaps the most famous rapper/POTUS beef came in 2005. After the horrific events of Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West outspokenly stated, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” during a live television broadcast. Also, it almost gave poor Mike Myers a heart attack. Former POTUS Bush would later address the incident revealing that is was the “all-time low” point of his presidency. “He called me a racist,” Bush tells Matt Lauer during an NBC interview interview in 2010. “And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it, it’s not true.”

  • Sister Souljah and Bill Clinton

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    In 1992, rapper/activist Sister Souljah spoke out against crime in urban communities with a speech so woke that it received a response from Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign. According to the LA Times, Souljah was quoted in a Washington Post interview suggesting that those inflicting black-on-black violence might kill white people instead. Clinton took a stand against the rapper, comparing Souljah’s rhetoric to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke during a speech to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. Watch below.

  • Ice T and George H.W. Bush

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    Also in 1992, Ice T found himself in a national uproar over his song “Cop Killer.” Many lashed out at him, from the country’s leading police organizations to more notably President George H.W. Bush. According to the LA Times, Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle condemned Time Warner, which owns the record label that distributes “Cop Killer,” for being “irresponsible.” It resulted in around 1,400 record outlets pulling the album from their shelves and the label pulling the record from all distribution lists.

  • Kanye West and Barack Obama

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    When Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Barack Obama called him a “jackass” in a CNBC interview. The former POTUS doubled down on his opinion of West during a 2012 interview with The Atlantic, when he was asked to choose between Jay Z or West. He choose HOV. “Although I like Kanye. “He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented,” Obama answers. “’He is a jackass, “but he’s talented.” Ye would later respond in an interview with Power 107.9 stating, “Oh, you talking about how he use to come and visit me and my mama and tell me that he’s about to run for president? I just think that we’re pop icons, and the president likes to use that type of thing just to be down and stuff.” He later urges that, “he shouldn’t mention my baby mamas name.”

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