The teaser video for “Arrest the President,” Ice Cube’s thumping 2018 rap song, makes no secret about its intended target. It leads with clips of President Trump’s border wall, his friendly meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Safe to say, the rapper-actor seems to have a different approach to Trump these days.
After spending much of this year boosting his Contract With Black America, a policy plan for racial justice, Ice Cube confirmed Wednesday that the Trump campaign had been consulting with him on its own proposals aimed at winning over Black voters.
It is, at once, a bewildering revelation and one that seems oddly fitting for the year 2020: Ice Cube, who in part rose to fame with the gangsta rap classic “F— tha Police,” is now politically linked to a man who said earlier this year that “without police, there is chaos.”
“Both parties contacted me,” Cube explained on Twitter. “Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA.”
His admission inspired a wave of both anger and shock online, with many saying that Ice Cube’s argument — all politicians neglect Black Americans, so why not try to engage all of them? — was simply beside the point after four years that have been marked by numerous allegations of racism against Trump.
Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham put it more simply: “From NWA to MAGA(?). 2020 got some wild subplots.”
But even as a senior campaign adviser to the president, Katrina Pierson, boasted about the rapper’s involvement Tuesday, Ice Cube made it clear that his work with Trump doesn’t make him a fan of the commander in chief. On Twitter, he insisted that a bipartisan strategy was necessary to achieve racial justice for Black people in the United States.
“Every side is the Darkside for us here in America,” he said. “They’re all the same until something changes for us. They all lie and they all cheat but we can’t afford not to negotiate with whoever is in power.”
Born O’Shea Jackson, the native of south Los Angeles has been no stranger to controversy throughout his 30-plus years in the spotlight. Accusations of anti-Semitism and prejudice toward other groups have plagued him since his first solo albums in the early 1990s, reaching a peak earlier this year when he posted tweets tying Jews to the oppression of Black people.
Yet Cube, who since branched out from rap to the movie industry and the basketball business, never lost his sharp social commentary. The same went for his stature in the rap world, where he is revered for tracks that attack white supremacy and racial profiling while centering ideas of Black nationalism.
In 2016, he vowed to “never endorse” Trump, who won the presidential election less than three months later. Two years later, he released the album “Everythang’s Corrupt,” which included lyrics going after the alt-right, Ku Klux Klan and Trump supporters who “talk about law and order.”
Earlier this summer, following nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice, he turned his social commentary into a plan for action: the CWBA, which particularly focused on uplifting Black communities economically through measures such as bank-lending reform and interest-free homeownership loans.
In corresponding with the Democratic campaign, Cube told TMZ he pushed for a focus on economic policies, including more government contracts for Black businesses.
The Biden campaign, which released its plan aimed at Black voters in May, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. A representative for Cube declined to answer questions or make the rapper available for an interview.
But Cube, who earlier this week insisted he was being unfairly criticized for failing to join the Biden “gravy train” and said that “no president has done right by us,” also mentioned he had been in touch with representatives for Trump, though he volunteered few details about their conversations at the time.
Then, on Tuesday, Pierson, the Trump campaign adviser, revealed that the “Platinum Plan” unveiled by the president last week had been developed in consultation with the rapper.
The backlash, especially from Black liberals, was swift. They asked: Why did Trump seek out a rapper instead of policy experts? Who appointed Ice Cube as the spokesperson for all Black Americans? And how exactly did he go from railing against the president to collaborating with his campaign?
“I don’t care what Ice Cube says,” said Keith Boykin, a CNN political commentator. “Trump never apologized to the Central Park 5. He never apologized to Pres. Obama for birtherism. He never apologized to Black NFL players. He never apologized to Black countries he called s-holes. He never apologized for Black lives lost to Covid.”