Today, Complex posted a video talking to legendary Houston MC Bun B. Eventually, the conversation turned to politics and more pointedly, the current leader of the GOP in Texas: Ted Cruz. If you don’t know Mr. Cruz by now, he’s essentially the scum that we all think of when the word ‘politician’ is floated around in the laughable legislative atmosphere we live in today. In what can only be described as an attempt to demonstrate just how ridiculous our elected officials can act, Cruz conducted what amounted to a 21 hour temper tantrum, officially classified as a filibuster. For almost a full day, a man with seemingly nothing interesting or positive to say held down the podium, reciting Dr. Seuss, quoting Star Wars and ruminating over the intricacies of White Castle hamburgers. Yes, this man was elected and collects a government paycheck. You may have heard of what came next; a government shutdown that closed national parks, temporarily laid off thousands of government employees, almost made America default on our loans and generally just made “The Land of the Free” look like something out of Idiocracy. His reasoning was to stall the expansion of basic healthcare to millions of Americans who previously did not have such. Regardless of your stance on the Affordable Health Care Act (not “Obamacare” as Fox News has branded it), we can all agree Cruz’s limp-dick move dropped things to a new low. Well, Bun B, long referred to as “The Unofficial Mayor of Houston” gave his take on the biggest joke to hold office in American history.
Speaking with the Complex staff, the Trill OG started things off by stating; “I think I can speak for most reasonable people when I say Ted Cruz is an asshole. Just speaking as a an individual and registered voter, it’s just a gross over-use of power.” As photos of Cruz embracing fellow genius Sarah Palin faded across the screen, Bun glossed over the issue, touching on the importance of filibusters while making a point that what Cruz did was petty and underhanded. “You have to just not let these situations get you disenfranchised in the voting process and politics in America,” said Bun. “It doesn’t always work for you-but it works. It gets us by, we could be living in a lot worse countries.” While I don’t see CNN stopping their coverage today to to tune into what a rapper from Houston has to say about Cruz (Bill O’Reilly might), it builds on a point that was brought up in an earlier editorial about TDE and Kendrick Lamar’s beef with GQ.
An interesting side to hip-hop music, as it enters it’s fourth decade, is the position of “OG” artists like Bun B in the larger lexicon of American culture. Last week, Nas had a Harvard Fellowship scholarship named after him, 9th Wonder has had residencies teaching at both Harvard and NC State and Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine donated $70 million to USC to establish a combined creative arts and media business undergraduate major. According to Dr. Christopher Holmes Smith an associate professor at USC in an story about the Nas Fellowship, “I think the main reason behind it is that you’ve got the coming-of-age of a whole generation of Black leaders in academia … that grew up under hip-hop, and they have influence, institutional clout, credibility and decision-making power.”
For Bun B’s part, it’s not completely out of the question for the double-cup pioneer to make a foray into politics and try to lose the “Unofficial” from his moniker. In a story written by Chris Grey for the Houston Press last week, he suggested Bun B, who himself is a Rice University comparative-religion professor and Houston Symphony collaborator, as well as being a trusted friend/adviser to Houston’s existing mayor, may have a real shot at holding public office. Grey quotes Dr. Brandon Rottinghaus, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston: “A traditional politician may talk about those issues, but maybe hasn’t lived it, where in his case he has lived it and it gives him some credibility in a way doesn’t give credibility to a traditional politician.” Much like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a former off the wall, misogynistic professional wrestler who won the Governor’s seat in Minnesota from 1999-2003.
There was a Dave Chappelle stand up bit years ago where the comedian reminisces on how 9/11 went for him, describing turning on the tv to MTV where Carson Daly was doing a live call-in from Ja Rule to get his perspective. As expected, Chappelle played with the scene, because who cares what Ja Rule has to say about anything really? On a serious note though, that mentality of it being laughable for recording artists, or more specifically rappers making forays into public office and leadership roles in communities is increasingly encouraging. In 2010 Chicago rapper Rhymefest ran an unsuccessful Alderman campaign. While he didn’t win, it was a nugget of an idea. The first to do it is rarely the one that breaks through, but with Jay-Z hanging out with the Obamas, Drake kicking it with the crazed Rob Ford and Bun B checking Cruz’s missteps, we are beginning to enter a new phase of hip-hop, where it is not only the influence and the voice, but also behind those in leadership positions.