On April 12, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2016 Presidential elections. As the former secretary of state and after putting time in as a senator and a first lady to Bill Clinton, she’s pretty well-equipped for the race. While Clinton almost made it last term running against President Obama, but she fell short. This time around, she might want to rethink her campaign in order to address the most relevant issues.
Since hip-hop and even R&B is often a vehicle for political expression, we think Clinton’s chances of ending up in the White House could be improved by listening to a few of the greats. From feminist mantras to messages of tolerance, these songs contain everything she needs to gain confidence, win votes and open up conversations integral to the audiences who will determine her fate in 2016.
Kanye West provides insight into racial inequality, Missy Elliott shoots adrenaline into the mix and Beyonce does what she does best -- reminds Clinton of the power of the female spirit. Here are 10 Songs That Will Carry Hillary Clinton to the White House.
"If I Ruled the World"Nas feat. Lauryn Hill
Since leading America implies world domination, Nas and Ms. Hill break down their visions of utopia on a track that bolsters Clinton’s perspectives on equality. Nas relays the injustices of a system designed to hinder progress and one of Clinton’s goals is to, as he says, “open their eyes to the lies history told."
Since it’s early in the game, Clinton has been doing a lot of what the media calls “un-running” -- visiting cities and listening to what issues come up in community meetings instead of talking directly to the media. By “trooping out of state for a plate of knowledge,” as Nas says, Clinton gains perspective and subtly plants seeds.
One focus of hers, new jobs aimed to lift the oppressive rate of poverty in the country, is an extension of what was achieved during her husband's tenure. While Nas’ dreams of “better living, the type of place to raise kids in,” speaks of wishing for a society of black wealth -- both monetarily and culturally -- Clinton’s campaign seems to align with supporting minority communities in America.
"Same Love"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
Clinton’s voiced perspectives on gay marriage, while complicated, have evolved. It’s a tough pill to swallow for many that a stone democrat like her could leave the issue to the states, essentially denying gay equality as a national right for so many years. It wasn’t until 2013, in fact, that she announced her support for gay marriage. She's posted many pro-gay tweets on Twitter after announcing her candidacy, in fact. Is it better late than never or too little too late?
Either way, she’s got some convincing and canvassing to do, and what better song to lead with than "Same Love." Macklemore’s poignant lyrical inquiry about society’s -- especially hip hop’s -- unjust treatment of those who lead an alternate lifestyle pits him as an ally. Clinton could definitely benefit from that look.
“No law’s going to change us,” raps Macklemore, “We have to change us / Whatever you God you believe in / We come from the same one.” Empowering and socially conscious, yes. But a law can definitely change some things. Enter Hillary Clinton.
"4 My People"Missy Elliott
Every politician needs a song that gets the crowd hyped and this is Hillary Clinton’s ideal keynote. The beat is undeniable, the title is patriotic and the message, while drug-centric, is aggressively unifying. The music video is also conducive to campaigning with its ubiquitous American flags and red, white and blue-clad Missy, asking for her people to show her a little love.
Clinton using this song for her campaign exemplifies a brand of feminism that the rapper exudes with her rejection of Sarah Palin-like tropes of sexuality that are often detrimental to the validity of their claims. Fancy updos and cutesie winks are not a part of Clinton’s brand. Like Elliott, she doesn’t need to exploit female stereotypes to play with the big boys. “4 My People” sets the energy level at 10 -- something Clinton’s campaign could benefit from.
"Tightrope"Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi
Never underestimate the power of a pantsuit when it comes to women with a cause. Clinton, in the nascent stages of her presidential campaigning, seems to focus heavily on middle class families so fueling her message with a little Janelle Monae only makes sense since the singer has attributed her staple black and white “uniform” as a tribute to the working women of America. The choice of attire for both Monae and Clinton addresses gender and wage equality as well.
The “tightrope” metaphor is instrumental for the presidential candidate at this point in the game, as she begins to take her stance on issues that she’ll be undoubtedly scrutinized for. Monae opens up the track by pointing out the inevitability of the talk that will surround a person once they step into the limelight. Trash talk and doubt will be part of the campaign, not just because Clintons marital history but also because of progressives’ hesitation to back her based on some of her more conservative stances on issues such as foreign policy.
Monae preaches some realities on this song about dealing with adversity. “You either follow or you lead,” she says.
"Pursuit of Happiness"Kid Cudi feat. MGMT
Kid Cudi’s reference to the indelible phrase from the Declaration of Independence speaks precisely to what Clinton is selling in her images of family, community and prosperity. “Everything that shine ain’t always going to be gold,” Cudi says, a message about values that Clinton could artfully spin to her advantage.
Clinton’s recent comment about “toppling the wealthiest 1 percent” in order to strengthen the middle class has raised a lot of eyebrows due to some of her fiscally conservative views and the fact that she hasn’t exactly resembled someone from the middle class for quite a while. But if she sticks by this comment, then Cudi’s mantra resonates. While the wealthy may make America look successful as a country, they’re essentially crushing its very core -- the middle class.
“The pursuit of happiness” expressed skepticism of the good life shown in the music video, where champagne flows like water and pretty people toast to life. The rapper paints the picture of a long-lasting high, which could reflect the blur of America’s reverence to riches.
Jay Z’s first album, Reasonable Doubt, remains one of the rawest testaments to the hustle. While his content consists of lyrics about his life on the streets, Clinton is pushing her own product during this election: her agenda for a crucial four-year term.
On “Can I Live,” Jay Z laments the attention thrown his way from onlookers who want to bring him down. “I keep one eye open like CBS,” says Hov. He’s always on defense, just as Clinton should be to watch her opponents from every angle.
The Washington Post reported on the latest scandal to hit the campaign: alleged “mistakes” in the Clinton Foundation’s financial practices. A forthcoming book called Clinton Cash, written by conservative Peter Shweitzer, claims that the foundation violates its obligation to disclose all of its donors, therefore intertwining their personal wealth with charity. At this point, there isn’t any concrete evidence yet but her haters are definitely in the building trying to find some.
"Run the World (Girls)"Beyonce
While Queen Bey has a plethora of feminist anthems under her belt, this one seems the most apropos for Clinton’s potential run as Commander in Chief. And while the movement is about equality, “My persuasion can build a nation” implies quite the upper hand. That can’t hurt in an election, especially one where Clinton aims to bring justice to women’s (and men’s) issues such as reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work.
Direct and simple, the song injects a shot of energy into the race. The lyrics are playfully cocky, daring any contender to mess with a strong, capable woman and her watertight team. Hopefully, Hills has her own crew on speed dial since no matter how much we’ve progressed, there will always be resistance against a woman in a position of power.
In one of the purest forms of hip-hop narrative -- the testimonial -- Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey tout their skills as MCs as well as their intellectual capacities as compared to their competition. It’s a compelling form of political debate, complete with artful mudslinging and an unabashed self-promotion.
Clinton could definitely pick up some debate tips from this song since so many politicians claim to have the community in mind, but there are decidedly few who are truly “conscious.” “Consider me the entity within the industry without a history of spitting the epitome of stupidity," Kweli raps.
By being the first presidential candidate to avoid the press for so long after her announcement to run, she might be able to avoid at least some of the drama that comes along with being in the limelight. “Definition” contains religious allusions, call and response and declarations of competence (“Striving for perfection ever since I was a snot-nose,” Bey delivers), all useful tools to gain trust during a debate.
"Still I Rise"Nicki Minaj
While women are undeniably fierce, channeling a little masculine swagger -- a la Nicki Minaj -- this song could add new depth to a campaign, especially when 80 percent of elected officials are males. On this track, a nod to Maya Angelou’s renowned poem, Minaj breaks down the many rumors that have circulated about her business and personal life, expressing how her actions have been demonized even further because she’s a woman.
Minaj names the many ways onlookers have tried to tarnish her image or undermine her talent and reminds them that she isn’t going anywhere. In a probable attempt to stay focused and unfazed, Clinton has thus far only answered seven questions from the media since she launched her campaign and one of them inquired about her travels to Iowa again after her loss in 2008. She replied, “I’m having a great time -- can’t look forward to any more than I am.”
"Heard 'Em Say"Kanye West feat. Adam Levine
At a public policy forum held at Columbia University last month, Clinton commented on the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody and the highly publicized riots that followed in Baltimore. As reported in Newsweek, she said, “Please join me in saying a prayer for the family of Freddie Gray and all the men whose names we know and those we don’t.” Highlighting police brutality as an epidemic is not only insightful, but is a shrewd manner of aligning with the black community.
On “Heard ‘Em Say,” Yeezy addresses the plight of the young black man in America, as well as other issues that Hills will inevitably delve into: insufficient minimum wage, drug regulation and mass incarceration (which she also addressed at the forum). In his heartfelt cultural commentary, West raps, “Nothin’s ever promised tomorrow today, but we’ll find a way.” Clinton’s choice to address a controversial topic as she begins her journey as a presidential candidate embraces the idea of awareness as the first step to a solution.