Sampling politicians and their most memorable speeches is no new feat in popular music, spanning genre and generation. In 1976, soul singer Billy Paul sampled quotes from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in his single “Let Em In.” Public Enemy famously grabbed from the latter in their 1987 hit “Bring The Noise,” referencing Malcolm X’s speech about the 1963 march on Washington. Punk and hip-hop, alike, became notoriously critical of right-wing leaders and used their voices against them—Killer Mike’s “Reagan” from 2012 comes to mind.
When Donald Trump began his campaign for the 45th United States presidency, musicians took notice: Steinski, one half of the hip hop production duo Double Dee and Steinski, sampled Trump’s famous Town Hall interview (you know the one, where he revealed he got his start after his father gave him a “small loan of $1 million,”) for his electronic track “Trump Inaugural Address Leaked by Russian Hackers” in 2016. That same year, unknown rappers Mike Dean and DJ Assault sampled Trump’s leaked conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush (both titles are variants of “Grab ‘Em By The Pussy” and don’t really warrant a further dive. Sorry.)
This year, sampling Trump doesn’t seem to be as popular, but the names of those who have are much more....relevant? Juliana Hatfield, who grabbed from the aforementioned AH tape, positioned Trump’s words next to Bill Cosby’s sexual assault and rape crimes on the powerful “When You’re A Star.” Meek Mill and The-Dream teamed up for “Young Black America,” sampling Trump’s posturing of “What do you have to lose?”—a question he posed for black Americans unwilling to vote for him. In both cases, the inclusion of Trump is effective and makes the listener uneasy.
The same cannot be said for rapper XXXTentacion, currently awaiting trial for a slew of heinous sexual assault charges, who just this week used Donald Trump’s Charlottesville speech (the “violence on many sides” neo-nazi apologist assertion) as personal posturing on his latest track, “Hate Will Never Win.” He raps:
Why the fuck should I apologize?
Country’s orderless, it’s a lie
By these fucking government scumbag dicksuckers with ties
Wanna fight for my future
It’s right in my hands
And the future of many youth if I play my cards can advance
It’s irresponsible, sure, but it also serves to illustrate all of the villainous ways Trump’s hate speech can be manipulated into, well, fake news. Meta? Or in the case of Hatfield and Meek Mill, Trump samples can be used to highlight his toxicity and the world that lead to his presidency. Whatever the case, I’d like to hear less of Trump, not more.