As you can probably tell, I am extremely invested in this year’s election. I’m typically always concerned when it comes to politics, but if you are honestly not terrified for the future of this country right now, then you are either hiding behind a veil of denial or a veil of privilege. Or you’ve simply just stopped caring, which is kind of understandable at this point. It’s been a whirlwind. And I know that this is supposed to be a hip-hop blog, but the ways in which I have been seeing politics and the entertainment industry overlap is actually pretty inspiring. Out of all of the methods I have seen to promote voter turn-out, this may be one of the most innovative ideas. President Trump has managed to worsen this country every time he opens his mouth. It’s genuinely become difficult to tell fact from fiction. So artists all over the United States have taken it upon themselves to expose President Trump’s web of lies in the new trend, #45Lies.
If you have visited some of your favorite rapper’s or poet’s pages on Instagram, you might have seen that they’ve contributed to the #45Lies trend. 45 artists around the United States choose one 45’s many lies (don’t worry, they had plenty of material to work with). They then record themselves performing a 45-second video explaining what the lie is, the danger behind it, who it affects, and the overarching problems that it creates. The official 45 artists are posted on the @45lies2020 Instagram page but that hasn’t stopped other artists from contributing. Poets, rappers, and writers of varying calibers flooded the #45lies hashtag on Instagram to share the lies spewed by the obnoxiously orange president, picking the ones that impacted them the most. And let me tell you. They did not go easy on him. It’s like a Comedy Central roast but everyone you chose to speak actually hates you. And makes no effort to hide it.
The website encourages artists to use the instrumental for The Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President,” although some artists chose to speak over tracks like Nas’s “I Know I Can,” and Blackstar’s “Respiration.” Others chose to perform a cappella. The way that it works is that the first 15 artists post their 45 seconds following the first presidential debate, which took place last week. From there, each of those artists challenges two additional artists, creating a total of 45 artists; the base of the project. From there, those artists continue to tag 2 others, creating a rippling effect to raise awareness over the dangerous fallacies that have been spread by the current administration. I wasn’t able to include everybody because it was getting a bit tedious, but everyone that I included is technically one of those first 45 artists. A few from the initial 15 haven’t responded, but others tagged more than 2 to make up for it. I also strongly encourage you to check out the Official 45 Lies Website. On there, you can learn more about the project, fact check the president, download the instrumentals to partake in the challenge, read up on some of his lies, and donate to causes that have been affected by the president.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the creator of the campaign, kicked off the series with by rapping over Digable Planet’s “Rebirth of Slick.”
He uses his 45 seconds to discuss how Donald Trump lied about the turnout for his inauguration, emphasizing the fact that he started off his presidency on a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. He expressed how such a stupid and pointless lie stood for so much more; it was the idea that everything this man says is some warped idea of reality, and a lot of the time it’s for no good reason. He then used his personal Instagram to invite the remaining original artists to choose a lie that they felt needed to be talked about, as well as his two nominees. This included:
- Daveed Diggs
- Saul Williams
- Ryan Nicole
- Lemon Andersen
- Sonya Renee Taylor
- Black Thought
- Mayda Del Valle
- Pharoahe Monch
- Jasmine Mans
- Utkarsh Ambudkar
- Jason Reynolds
- Bassey Ipki
- Danez Smith
- Prentice Powell
- Christopher Jackson
- Jessica Care Moore
Daveed Diggs went on to challenge Donald Trump’s spending after he claimed to be putting money into poverty-stricken neighborhoods over an instrumental of Tupac’s “I Get Around.” From there, he invited Open Mike Eagle (who I’m REALLY excited to see), They Hate Change, and Ed Balloon.
Ryan Nicole answered next, bringing up Trump’s claims that mail-in ballots will lead to a rigged election in efforts to prevent voter turn-out. She also gave a stunning performance over “Rebirth of Slick” and invited Lyric Jones and Dom Jones.
Lemon Andersen gave a haunting spoken word about Trump’s lie that Covid-19 would go away once the weather got warmer, using statistics of the horrifying death tolls while also explaining how the virus targeted minority communities, allowing the president to hide behind his privilege and rally the proud boys yet again.
Not holding back over Notorious B.I.G.’s “Unbelievable,” (I enjoyed the play on that), Sonya Renee Taylor rapped about Trump’s belief that drinking bleach and cleaning the body from within could help defeat the Coronavirus. She attacks him for his inability to say ‘I don’t know’ and then his pattern of deflecting the blame by claiming the bullshit he spewed was sarcasm. Has he tried drinking bleach yet? She went on to tag Gayle Danley and Sekou Andrews.
As always, Black Thought didn’t disappoint as he called out the president for all of his lies, which have resulted in death, poverty, and economic uncertainty. His constant lies have brainwashed his loyal supporters while making the US the laughing stock of the world. He called out Sa-Roc and Mumu Fresh.
Mayda Del Valle had the ultimate clap-back for Trump’s lies about Hurricane Maria. As she spits her eerily controlled fire at the president, she expresses her anger for how he treated her island after the natural disaster, claiming that Maria was exaggerated by the Democrats to make him look bad, undermining the turmoil that Puerto Rico endured. This one is definitely up there as one of my favorites. She went on to nominate Evan Cristo, Karl Michael Iglesias, DiJa, Avery R. Young, Alyesha Wise, Velcro, Ikol Santiago, and Busstop Prophet.
Jasmine Mans performed a beautiful spoken word about the innocent children detained and killed at the border, with the number being far beyond what was estimated and reported, shocking the country. She also mentioned the lack of testing and medical equipment to tackle the ongoing pandemic, showing Trump’s love for undermining crises simply because he doesn’t want to admit that he can’t handle them. She invited Alysia Harris and Carvens Lissaint.
Utkarsh Ambudkar tackled the issue of re-opening schools, a debate that’s caused quite a stir all over the US. He talks about how Trump said that schools should re-open back in JULY because schools in other countries were re-opening (probably because they properly handled the pandemic and have less than half of our death rate), once again downplaying the severity of the Coronavirus, especially as it targets minorities. But we all know Trump doesn’t care about us. He invited Aneesa Folds, Dumbfoundead, and Taizu.
Aneesa’s video tackled Trump’s hilarious idea that he’s done more for the Black community than any other president. Let’s let that one settle in as we see our country in the midst of a civil war. As we are seeing KKK rallies and proud boys gathering, knowing that they’re supported by our president. I loved her video because she talked about Joe Biden and how she isn’t exactly enthusiastic, because it’ll be just another old white man speaking for the Black community. However, she acknowledges that it’s still better than our current administration. Her video was raw, and spoke volumes on the bullshit that we’re sitting through right now. It’s just like Trump to speak for the Black community by saying that he’s helping them while they are out fighting for their lives and then getting gassed during his photo-ops simply because they protested for equality. It was also super cool to see how she incorporated his behavior throughout the first presidential debate. She nominated Leanard Moore, Jelly D, Jay Ellis, Shamarah Hernandez, and Daniel Watts.
Taizu tackled Trump’s whole personality essentially, from his criminal background to his tax fraud, showing just what type of person Trump is. He also brought up QAnon and their defense of Trump to take away from the issues at hand.
Jason Reynolds gave an absolutely breath-taking performance about Trump’s belief that he put $100 billion into new investments, benefiting poorer neighborhoods and creating jobs. Reynolds challenged that with the reality of the situation: gentrification. Destroying the spirits and histories of neighborhoods by replacing them with fancy, unaffordable housing, pushing lower-income families out rather than doing anything to help them. Living in Philadelphia, that felt all too familiar. He invited Adrian Matejka and Candace Iloh to take part.
Bassey Ipki beautifully encapsulated the fear that we all feel as our president continues to denounce Covid, undermining the everlasting affect it has had on our country, our economy, and our livelihood. As we watch our family members die alone, he continues to prove just how little he cares about us.
Danez Smith spoke in response to Trump’s quote, “stand by, stand down,” when talking about white supremacists. Smith brings up the terrifying idea that Trump can’t condemn white supremacy, because then how would he face himself? He’s actively looking to history to borrow Nazi tactics. He’s made it known what he stands for. What are the white supremacists standing by for, exactly? What’s to come?
Prentice Powell created a video full of frustration as he speaks on one of Trump’s craziest lies-the idea that he’s a multi-billionaire. Powell makes a lot of incredible points, including the one that Trump essentially spoke this lifestyle into existence, something that minorities aren’t able to do. Trump’s the epitome of fake it till you make it, because he used some of the dirtiest tricks in the book to achieve his “wealth”, ones that screwed over hundreds of thousands of people. We saw your taxes, Donald. We know what the deal is. He chose to nominate Obbie West and Shawn Williams.
Jessica Care Moor addressed Trump’s lie that he was awarded ‘Man of the Year’ at a Michigan event, then brought up just about everything and everybody that would be more qualified than Trump to win an award like that. She then nominated a shit ton of people including Talib Kweli.
Talib responded (with really shitty quality-come on Talib!) by speaking up against Trump as a whole, listing his numerous lies and insults thrown at specific ethnicities, showing that we really can’t believe just about anything Trump says. He nominated David Banner, DJ Premier, Snoop Dogg, Niko High, Tobe Nwigwe, Fat Nwigwe, and Colin Hanks. Now those are some responses I would love to see.
Christopher Jackson gave one of my other favorite performances as he laughs at the idea that Trump cares about our teachers and education system when the dumbass lied about his own degree. He brings up the issues of under-funding and the fact that our teachers are putting their lives at risk with face shields and face masks for an underappreciated career. Our teachers are supposed to change lives but we make it so difficult for them to do so. And sending them back to schools, which are breeding grounds for germs and diseases, for a way too low salary, is not a way to show to appreciation.
As the trend continues to build momentum, I’ll try to keep updating this list. Are there any artists that you would love to see contribute a 45-second video? Leave a comment with who! And remember, not all of these artists are Broadway stars and Grammy award-winning artists. If there’s a video that you really liked or were moved by, pop by their page and give them a follow or like. Show your support for the arts, the community is hurting and needs every bit of help. Make sure to register to vote if you haven’t already, those deadlines are coming up. And if you’ve made your own video for the #45Lies trend, tag me in it on Instagram and I’ll show some love!