From the Left



America's first hip-hop president

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

He is mentioned by rappers like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, T.I., Gucci Mane, Nelly, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Meek Mill, Big Sean and P Diddy, among others.

An article by FiveThirtyEight this past July noted that Trump and his brand had been referenced in about 266 songs, dating back to 1989.

Why? Trump's building of his name as a brand resulted in his being associated with status, wealth and power boldly and audaciously promoted at every opportunity.

"I'm the ghetto's answer to Trump," Jay-Z once rapped.

But Trump's relations with black folks chilled with other controversies. Most notable was his call for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five, four black men and one Hispanic accused of raping and beating a female jogger -- a call that Trump has continued even after another man confessed.

Today it is fair to say that Josh Green's question -- Why did Trump torch his relations with voters of color? -- comes down to a simple trade. As I once heard a former associate of President Richard Nixon explain, "We divide the country in two and win the bigger piece."

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That pretty well describes Trump's strategy following the two terms of the nation's first black president.

Long after Nixon and other presidents made their pivot from their party's base to the persuadable moderate swing voters, Trump sticks with his base. At least a loyal base makes him a power in next year's midterms, making him tougher to beat in the 2020 primaries.

In the meantime, Trump can fairly be called our first hip-hop president, a man who understands how to reach out to a broad coalition when he wants to. He just doesn't seem to want to right now.


(E-mail Clarence Page at



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