From protest songs to Rock The Vote efforts, pop music and politics are always going to be entwined. After all, both are fundamentally about using language and symbols to craft a pleasing narrative. But many of our most eloquent artists have stumbled when they enter the political arena, where words and standards are more strictly enforced.
To celebrate the madness that happens when pop stars go political, we've rounded up a list of the misinformed, inelegant or just plain stupid things musicians have said when they're trying to make a point.
This nasty booster track, released at the height of the 2008 campaign, was the exact kind of endorsement Obama didn't need, and in a move reminiscent of Bill Clinton's Sistah Souljah moment, his campaign renounced the track almost immediately. That didn't stop the rumor that Obama would paint the White House black from turning into a racist meme, though.
2. Obama and I is for the ladies Pro abortion, death to all babies Biden is the father Obama did it big 'Cause if McCain wins I'm not claiming none of them f---ing kids. -Tyler the Creator, "F--- This Election"
Luckily for Obama, Tyler the Creator was not yet a household name in 2008.
3. If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. … We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. -Ted Nugent As one of rock's few open conservatives, the Nuge is sadly unexempt from the paranoid conspiracy theories that have taken over a segment of the right wing since Obama's election. It's fine to criticize the president, it's less fine to suggest guillotining him.
4. Just like the Bushes, Clinton and Obama Just another talking head telling lies on teleprompters -Killer Mike, "Reagan" The Atlanta rapper's ode to our 40th President takes a lot of shots at Reagan's past as a film actor, but it also takes time to slip in a nod to the pervasive meme that Barack Obama owes his political success to his teleprompter.
ON GEORGE W. BUSH...
5. George Bush doesn't care about black people. -Kanye West Woof. At last Kanye West didn't say that "George Bush hates black people," which would have been plainly untrue. But Kanye's controversial ad-lib during the Concert for Hurricane Relief missed the mark in a similar fashion, mistaking the systematic racism on display in the wake of Hurricane Katrina for personal racism on the part of those in power. The latter is easy to refute-whatever your opinion of Bush, you have to admit he did more to fight AIDS in Africa than all previous Presidents combined-the former, less so.
6. Who gave Saddam anthrax? George Bush got the answers? -Kanye West, "Crack Music" Kanye West, at it again! Somehow, Bush found the idea that he (or his father) gave Saddam Hussein biological weapons much less offensive than the suggestion that he was a racist.
7. How is George Bush not in jail for treason? But Clinton gets impeached for busting semen? -Asher Roth, "A Milli (Remix)" Whatever his faults, George Bush did not spend his years in office "levying War against [the United States], or ... adhering to their Enemies [and] giving them Aid and Comfort." Similarly, Bill Clinton was not impeached for receiving oral sex, but for lying under oath about receiving oral sex.
8. Colin Powell chain and you know I'm straight thuggin' -Lil B, "Bitch I'm Bill Clinton" This isn't offensive, so much as it is just confusing.
ON OLDER PRESIDENTS...
9. How do we stop the Black Panthers? Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer -Kanye West, "Crack Music" Kanye here is referring to the urban legend that Ronald Reagan used the CIA to funnel crack into America's inner cities as part of a plot to keep blacks down. Though the CIA was allied with Nicaraguan drug runners during the Cold War, the agency has been cleared of all trafficking charges.
10. Dear Mr. President. First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs three weeks ago and expressed my concern for our country. The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it the establishment. I call it America and I love it. … I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good. I am Glad to help just so long as it is kept very private. … I was nominated this coming year one of America's Ten Most Outstanding Young Men. … am sending you the short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you're not too busy. Respectfully, Elvis Presley P. S. I believe that you, Sir, were one of the Top Ten Outstanding Men of America also. -Elvis Presley, in a letter to Richard Nixon Of all the presidents for Elvis to send a rambling six-page fan letter, he had to choose Nixon? Really?
Click here for the full list of 20 politically unsound quotes including Justin Bieber's stance on rape.