Culture

Culture

The infinite awfulness of conservative rap

Is there nothing the right can’t destroy?

It seems unlikely that so many bowtied white Republicans are genuine fans of hip-hop, especially after decades of right-wing commentators lambasting the genre. And yet, our friends on the right return to the genre again and again, writing out syncopated, semi-comedic ditties about how much they love America and how much they hate liberals. The simplest explanation for this is that conservatives consider hip-hop inherently comical and illegitimate, a reflection of their larger disdain for black culture. But rather than voice their grievances through pop-country or Ted Nugent-style butt rock, they attempt to rap. Unsurprisingly, the results are invariably atrocious, and these artists should be sent to cultural prison to atone for their musical sins. Until Trump establishes a gulag for the arts, we will memorialize their greatest hits here.

The Young Cons “Young Con Anthem”

Give Rare Cask

The Young Cons are now best known as purveyors of clickbait on Facebook, where their page has nearly a million likes despite only linking to YoungCons.com, an ad-ridden aggregator of other publications’ articles for young conservatives. Before that, members David Rufful and Josh Riddle, then Dartmouth students, had a short-lived career as rappers. In 2009’s “Young Con Anthem,” Rufful and Riddle strut around an empty classroom on their Ivy League campus and, as is tradition for balding, inexplicably racist 19-year-olds, they are clad in suits. Rufful and Riddle adopted “rap names” — they go by Stiltz and Serious C, respectively, neither of which resembles actual rap nomenclature from any era. Serious C’s vocals are mumbled and poorly double tracked, but just clear enough to make out execrable lines like “terrorists were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay / now they’re in our neighborhoods, planning our doomsday.” Stiltz fares little better, veering off-tempo every other line while delivering gibberish like “taxes are the subject / and I will spit them verbally” in a distorted yelp. The internet pelted “Young Con Anthem” with dislikes and rude comments, but Fox News embraced it. The video was replayed on The O’Reilly Factor and Fox & Friends, and Mike Huckabee liked it enough to commission an on-air performance.

Worst couplet: “Three things taught me conservative love / Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged

Hi Caliber “Patriotic People”

According to a 2010 interview with NJ.com, Hi Caliber, real name Zac Canace, was discovered when he sent a demo of his music to the Koch-founded organization FreedomWorks in 2009. The organization immediately booked him for its Taxpayer March on Washington and offered to sponsor a music video for Caliber’s single, “Patriotic People.” According to a FreedomWorks director interviewed at the time, the intent was to “put a young, edgier face” on the Tea Party. Apparently, the youngest, edgiest performer they could find was a 34-year-old who rapped lines like “marriage is a between a man and a lady / have you all lost your minds, have you all gone crazy?” Despite a few puff pieces and one painfully awkward interview with RT, Hi Caliber made little impact on the Tea Party’s public image, and the Koch faucet was turned off soon after. So what is Zac Canace, “the only rapper who supports the cops,” up to in 2017? Not much — he’s been in county jail since attempting to rob his local TD Bank in June.

Worst couplet: “People want to go against the word of God and live alternative / the media wants to crucify conservatives”

Steven Crowder “Mr. America” (featuring Chris Loesch)

Steven Crowder is a man of many talents. He voiced Brain on the PBS cartoon Arthur, he remained a virgin until 25, and he’s great at coming up with bizarre “pranks” that somehow all require dressing as a woman. His chief talent, however, is rapping. In “Mr. America,” Crowder affects a “black” Southern drawl presumably modeled after Lil Wayne’s, but he fails to appropriate any of Southern rap’s rhythmic variation and ends up sounding like Eminem with a sinus infection. As if it weren’t painful enough, Crowder and his supporting “rapper,” Chris Loesch (whose wife is the spokesperson for the NRA) are dressed as Jefferson and Washington, giving them an opening to make a reprehensible pun on the word “knickers.” Hey, at least they aren’t wearing Klan uniforms! If there were ever any question as to the intended audience for this shit, a video exists of Crowder and Loesch performing “Mr. America” at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference. Everyone in the crowd is white, and only a handful look to be under 60. At 2:28 in the CPAC performance, the camera cuts to the only audience member not seated — an elderly white woman, fanny pack around her waist, gyrating arthritically.

Worst couplet: “After spending goes up, you gotta borrow some mo’ / borrowin’ from the Chinese like (Oh, my lawd!)”

Lena Dunham “Sensual Pantsuit Anthem”

Lena Dunham may not be a Republican, but she deserves mention if we’re discussing the greatest crimes in political rap history. Her 2016 Funny or Die skit “Sensual Pantsuit Anthem” bears more than a few similarities to her adversaries’ failed excursions into rap. The song opens with a spoken dialogue between Dunham and her friends, in which she mockingly announces her intention to express her political views through “rapped music” and her friends reply “Lena, no!” in unison. This aggressive wink and nod fails to redeem the song, which is, for the most part, dead serious. Dunham dons a red pantsuit and raps earnestly about Hillary Clinton’s progressive bona fides while performing a choreographed dance routine. After two minutes of high-budget, high-effort political rap, she strips down to a pantsuit bikini. Guest rapper Charlamagne tha God makes a comment about cultural appropriation, and then Dunham asks “I wonder if I’m actually hurting her chances of winning?” Probably, yes.

Worst couplet: “She’s been a lawyer, First Lady, senator, plus a mom / Fights for justice since the age of 15 — man, come on!” (Clinton spent her teenage years campaigning for Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater. She left the GOP in 1968 at age 21.)

Baked Alaska “MAGA Anthem”

Social media personality Tim Gionet, known by his nom de plume Baked Alaska, has a truly atrocious resume. After working in the marketing department for Warped Tour 2010, an event dominated by crunkcore joke acts like 3OH!3 and Breathe Carolina, Gionet moved on to BuzzFeed, where he put his byline on listicles like “16 Vines Only People Who Smoke Will Understand” while nurturing a stalled career as a DatPiff mixtape rapper. Seeking greener pastures, he left BuzzFeed in early 2016 to manage campus tours for Milo Yiannopoulos and collaborate with Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. Gionet grew a mullet and enthusiastically embraced the white nationalist ideals of the alt-right, deftly mixing them with the worst elements of social media exhibitionism. In “MAGA Anthem,” Gionet croons through Auto-Tune about building the border wall as thinly-veiled Nazi slogans like “#ALTRIGHT” and “DEFEAT THE GLOBALISTS” appear in ironically garish WordArt typefaces. All this coyness was for naught, however — the logo on Gionet’s videos is a modified swastika, and he soon took to sending Jews gas chamber memes on Twitter.

Worst couplet: “I just want to make America great / I just want to have a Trump Steak on my plate.”

Baked Alaska “We Love Our Cops”

Gionet truly outdid himself with “We Love Our Cops,” a paean to America’s law enforcement that contains either six or seven unique lines, depending on whether you consider “we love our veterans” distinct from “we love our military.” In the video, Gionet dances in front of a parked police SUV in between attempts to cajole busy crossing guards into hugging him. This is an odd reversal of the usual intent behind conservative rap — instead of attempting to slyly introduce teens to their grandma’s political resentments, “We Love Our Cops” makes the alt-right palatable to the elderly. Commenter Terry Martin, who appears to be in her 70s, wrote “Thank you! My grown grandchildren cannot believe I am listening to and following a Rapper! You are terrific!” But, despite his Eddie Haskell routine, the police and the elderly proved unable to protect him from receiving his just desserts over the next year. In November 2016, Mike Cernovich disinvited him from the alt-right “DeploraBall” event for tweeting too many Nazi slogans. In June, Gionet’s bodyguard was stabbed during an altercation with the Armenian Power street gang. Earlier this month, he was thrown out of an Uber mid-ride for making racist comments to the driver. Finally, while marching in the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville on August 13, he was “Bear maced with [a] Co2 charged can,” which caused “permanent eye damage.” Honestly, just stick to rapping.

Worst couplet: “When I’m in a jam, I know that I can call up the man with the plan / when I’m on the run, all I gotta do is dial 911.”

Alex Nichols is a contributing writer at The Outline.
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