So, the joke that Ice Cube went from rapping a song titled "Fuck Tha Police" to starring in home movies has played out, right?
I mean, it's not a new thing to talk about that pattern. Many rappers, who mostly prided themselves on their true-to-life songs about gangs and the harsh realities of growing up Black in the 1980s and '90s, have gone on to subvert that persona in their later years. The stories told through their songs are immortalized with the success these rappers had, with artists such as 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Ice Cube becoming household names.
It's kind of hard to overstate the success of some of these older rap artists. Kanye West has all but outgrown music as his main creative effort — now, he's making billions off his clothing brands. Ice Cube has been in so many movies, it's like his rap career is kind of an afterthought. Hell, 50 Cent has two video games made about him and even a branded Nintendo DS.
It's naive to think this kind of success wouldn't change the way these rappers have thought and behaved over time. Age, and especially money, has a way of warping perspectives. But I didn't think the success would have "Fuck Tha Police" Ice Cube going to work with President Donald Trump — literally the highest ranking officer in the country, being a commander in chief and all.
Now, I personally don't have an issue with these people moving on to less "hood" or "gangster" projects. These artists rapped about how much they loved the hood just as much as they rapped about wanting to leave the hood. If they found a way out, and got to make money in the process, who am I to judge how they got their paycheck? It's why I'm hesitant to paint all these older rappers in the same light — Ice-T went from rapping "Cop Killer" to being a "Law and Order" detective, but he's been very public about how it's just a day job for him.
That said, there's a pattern among older rappers, and similarly Black men, that's concerning to see.
I truly don't understand the thought process that led figures such as Kanye West, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Ice Cube to support Trump. It's completely antithetical to the stories they weave in their music, where they rhyme about the crimes against their upbringing, how the hood was a battleground and how the world, and subsequently the government, wasn't only watching idly as lives were lost — they were outright killing them.
But now they support the system in place, a system that wants to return to the struggle these rappers escaped, in a time where the number of protests against police violence is reaching heights unseen since the 1960s. They see a Black body torn down and side with the man in office saying they're going to send "thousands of heavily armed soldiers" to put a stop to the civil unrest.
The cynical answer is that it's just another check for them. Again, I have no issue with them making their money, but the ideology writing those checks outright hurts Black people. The Republican Party likely sought them out so as to turn out a higher percentage of the Black vote for Republicans. The sad thing is, as little success as it had, there is data suggesting that the effort worked.