It is no secret that music culture, pop culture and flat-out Hip-Hop culture has been used to influence voter turnout. Just look at the ‘Vote or Die’ or ‘Rock the Vote’ campaigns, who claim to have influenced the record turnout of young voters in the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. From his ability to code switch to his acute understanding of black youth culture, Obama is arguably America’s first “Hip-Hop President.” He has undoubtedly galvanized the Hip-Hop generation like no other President has before. With the importance of young voters of color for this upcoming election the question now is: Can an endorsement from today’s leaders in Hip-Hop influence this upcoming election?
Hip-Hop and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement
In recent weeks, both Brandon ‘Lil B’ McCartney from the Bay Area and Atlanta based rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders over party favorite Hillary Clinton. Lil B has created a community of loyal fans that borderlines a religious movement. He currently has 1.15 million followers on Twitter, 112 million views on YouTube and an online platform called ‘Baseworld’: “a virtual-reality home to some of contemporary music's most fiercely loyal, spirited, interconnected, mobilized, internet-savvy fans.” These fans also consist of young would-be voters all across the nation.
Killer Mike has been everywhere from CNN to FOX News, more recently known for his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher and his features in the Huffington Post (let’s not forget his invitation to the White House Correspondents Dinner).
His career has taken off as part of the duo: “Run the Jewels” and has also gained popularity for his advocacy as a rapper for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Killer Mike, quoted last month on Twitter, gave his endorsement to Sen. Sanders, praising him for his support of the voting rights act. Mike was not so keen on Clinton, comparing the persistence of Clinton and Bush politicians to the reign of monarchs.
It's official I support @SenSanders! His call 4 the restoration of the voters rights act sealed the deal for me.— Killer Mike (@KillerMike) June 29, 2015
What Does This Mean for 2016?
Yes, as of today Hillary Clinton leads the public opinion polls and the Democratic nomination is her’s to lose. Also, she still has the support from more high profile rappers like Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Pharrell Williams. But if we’ve learned anything from today’s political reality it’s that progressive multi-racial voters can make or break a Democratic candidate. No, Lil B and Killer Mike will not individually determine the 2016 Presidential election, but if they inspire other leaders in the Hip-Hop community to endorse Bernie, young voters of color are sure to follow suit. As this political tug of war continues, Hillary cannot let these endorsements go unnoticed.