Who would have thought Ben Carson’s campaign found value in airing $150,000 advertising spots featuring music from Savannah, Georgia emcee Aspiring Mogul? Airing for two weeks on various radio stations around Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Birmingham and other locations, the GOP frontrunner used the opportunity to reach black voters. It was quite strange. Speaking with a New York radio station in April, Carson had this to say about Hip Hop:
“Why were we able to get through those? Because of our faith, because of our family, because of our values, and as we allow the hip-hop community to destroy those things for us, and as we grasp onto what’s politically correct and not what is correct, we continue to deteriorate.”
Carson using Mogul for the ad made sense as their values actually aligned significantly. How successful the collaborative effort becomes has yet to be determined but, Complex called the record this year’s biggest struggle rap record and Talib Kweli said the song had “no lyrics.” Regardless, everyone had some reaction to it. Taking time to speak with DX, Mogul talks his relationship with Ben Carson, being a fan of Lupe Fiasco and being a black and Republican.
Aspiring Mogul Talks Ben Carson Relationship
DX: Clearly you and a certain friend of yours made the news recently through a radio ad.
Aspiring Mogul: Yeah man, I see. I have emails from CNN and Time Magazine to everybody. To me man, I don’t understand why it’s so different. But, I guess people haven’t seen it before. It’s interesting.
DX: When I checked out your Twitter to inquire about you, I noticed it was set to private. Was that in anticipation for the reaction you were going to receive?
Aspiring Mogul: Yes, all of these moves have been strategic in understanding the landscape of the country. Generally, I didn’t have my pages open because I’m married and have a family. Sometimes you have different people trying to pin things to your world. It wasn’t so much judging by some of the comments as people will follow you just to say stuff. I try to protect myself as much as I can.
DX: How exactly did you link up with Ben Carson for the controversial ad?
Aspiring Mogul: In December of last year before any of this happened, I made a song called “Black Republican.” This was before Ben Carson had even thought about running. The premise of this song came after I saw Gifted Hands were Cuba Gooding Jr. played him. Just watching what he went through. Watching him grow up through the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s in Detroit, no father figure and all of that. He just made it through some very difficult times. I felt like I connected with that personally. This wasn’t even about politics. I recorded that song in December and September of this year, I contacted his campaign. I told them I wrote this song that’s dope and they should check it out. His campaign manager listened, liked it and posted it immediately. “Black Republican” was personal, not political. I had some struggles in my life early on just being a hard-head in general. Him overcoming those obstacles just translated to me. When I wrote that campaign song, I wrote it in like twenty minutes man. I thought about it, whether he becomes president or not, what this man has accomplished is something we need to pay attention to.
That’s my logic in the whole movement and I’m a Hip Hop head. I grew up on Del The Funky Homosapien, Brand Nubian, Sista Souljah, N.W.A. and all of that. I feel like now in Hip Hop, we don’t have a balance. If you say anything pro-Republican, you’re a house nigga or sell out regardless. I’m like man, how can you have such a monopoly on people’s beliefs? The idea of someone calling me a name because of something I believe or write about doesn’t matter to me at all. We have this blind allegiance to the Democratic vote and I don’t see it translating to any life changes in our lives as a whole on a national level.
DX: Ben Carson is leading the national polls. What made you want to back him?
Aspiring Mogul: Let me rewind, I’m actually in Republican leadership. I’m actually the chairman for the Atlanta Black Republican Council. I’ve been in Republican leadership for about five years. Nobody had to force me anything. This was all organically. Nobody had to pay me to do it or dictate anything to me. The reason why I did it was because when I saw Hillary Clinton do the Nae Nae on The Ellen Degeneres Show some weeks ago, it bothered me. It bothered me tremendously. You’re going to do the Nae Nae on this show and the relativity of you doing a Hip Hop dance is going to transfer into black votes? It works just that way. I saw Jeezy post a picture of her and Kanye. You’re telling me as a black man, you’re going to identify with a white woman than a black man from Detroit who grew up in the struggle? Let’s take off the Democratic and Republican labels altogether. Y’all identify with a white woman with money than a black man from the hood of Detroit? We overlook that. Via every radio outlet we have; Steve Harvey, DL Hughley, Rickey Smiley, I respect all these brothers. But, we only get one view. Here’s what happens. They just say Republicans are racist and they don’t like poor people. So, black folks vote Democrats. It’s the same cycle every year and I watch it in my own city. Democrats don’t have to do anything.
We let them in automatically and don’t hold them accountable. All they say is that white folks are racist. Here’s another thing. All the money in America has white faces on it. If you don’t like white people, why are you going to work every day trying to get $50 or $100 bills. If you’re really pro-black, why doesn’t your money look like Eddie Murphy’s Zamunda money from Coming To America? I’m just a different type of dude. I grew up on 8 Ball & MJG and Trick Daddy. When I was listening to Sister Souljah or Jeru The Damaja, it was socially conscious music. We had a choice. Tupac brought you into the hood. He wasn’t a thug because he was crazy, that was the environment he came from. Now, it’s not like that. We automatically all Democrats and anti-Republican just because. Black folks were Republicans until 1960. When we marched for our rights and trying to go into stores, who owned those stores? You don’t never hear about that. I hope I ain’t talking too much. Can we have another perspective? On my Twitter, they call me a sell-out. We’re so use to voting a certain way that when someone challenges the ideology, you have an issue with it? Do your research brother.
Aspiring Mogul Calls Lupe Fiasco “The Most Underrated Dude In The Game & In Music Period”
DX: It’s rare that you get to meet a black Republican with such passion for Hip Hop. What does someone like yourself listen to?
Aspiring Mogul: Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Illmatic and Reasonable Doubt. I felt like everybody’s first album is their most powerful. I started listening to T.I.’s I’m Serious and even “The Symphony” with Marley Marl. I was getting into the idea of where we were then. Where were we before corporate dollars and money in Hip Hop. Think about Brand Nubian “Wake Up (Reprise The Sunshine).” They were really putting cats up on wisdom. Now, all of that is moving out of Hip Hop and now all you have are drugs, booty and cars. What’s the evolution from that?
DX: Well, many look at what J Cole and Kendrick Lamar as proof that commercial music and have some kind of message.
Aspiring Mogul: I like Kendrick and I like J Cole. I’m a huge fan of Lupe Fiasco by far. He has to be one of the most underrated dudes in the game and in music period. “American Terrorist,” oh my goodness. “Just imagine an American-based Christian organization /Planning to poison water supplies to bring the second-coming quicker/ Nigga.”
DX: It’s funny you mention “American Terrorist” when Carson has been accused of saying anti-Islamic rhetoric.
Aspiring Mogul: When it comes to somebody like Ben Carson, there isn’t a man on this planet earth that I agree with 100 percent outside of Jesus Christ. I don’t agree with my daddy all the time. I don’t agree with my friends all the time. When I say I support Dr. Carson, it’s about what he’s overcome. Even with my wife, sometimes she makes me so mad that I want to set her on fire. But, I love her to death. Let’s have a choice. We have no conservative black outlet. None. Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley and DL Hughley, how do you all have the same mindset? How do you all say you’re going to be pro-Obama? I’m not even one of those anti-Obama Republicans. I’ve read most of his books. I have The Audacity Of Hope and Dreams From My Father. He went to Harvard and that ain’t easy. At the same time, why we can’t have a contrasting view without being called a house negro or sell-out. Dr. Carson’s policies haven’t been fully defined, but you’ve never had a black Republican president. How can you say how bad it could be? Whatever scared ideology that people are buying into, we haven’t even seen it.
Aspiring Mogul Discusses Political Ideology
DX: I understand your point of view. Honestly, I never trusted Democrats or Republicans much anyway. However, there are policies that turn off and attract black voters.
Aspiring Mogul: Here’s another thing. I watched the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson. It’s a dope movie. When he went into the league, there weren’t any black folks. Nobody welcomed him and he had tremendous opposition. Notice that it always has to be a first. If we don’t have a seat at the table, our value will never get recognized. It was about him breaking into an avenue black folks weren’t at. Just because an environment is all white and doesn’t like me, I’m going there even faster. I’m going to show you how to respect my mind. It doesn’t make sense for me to see this table full of black people and just stay there. I need to go to the Asian table, white table and everywhere else. There is no environment I’m not going to go. If we don’t get a seat at the table, our views will never be reflected. Once we get at the table, then we can start making changes. If white people are in the room and start saying nigga this or nigga that, you have to insure that they change their language and tactics. For me being in the building, it changes everything. Because I have a black voice and care about black issues, I can have a voice especially issues that relate to black folks. You can’t expect these issues to be addressed if we’re not there. That doesn’t make sense. That’s where my passion is. I’m also a youth minister and been doing that for about six years. I want people to have a choice. Everybody who is listening to it, I get a royalty from it. I’m getting paid. You saw Straight Outta Comptonwhen they were burning the N.W.A. album? Eazy E said they can do whatever they want because they bought them. When Mike Vick went to jail, they bought his $300 jerseys just to burn them. I keep it real. I don’t know what they thought when they heard a Republican rapper. Probably thought Carlton Banks or something.
DX: You never know man.When did you political ideology form?
Aspiring Mogul: My dad was born in South Carolina, left home at eleven, did the job corps at 15 and went to Vietnam at 17. My dad always stressed entrepreneurship which attracted me to the GOP. Don’t worry about asking anyone for a job, create an opportunity. I could never comprehend the idea of asking people to hire me when you have 13-year-old kids creating apps for Apple. I can’t see myself picketing and marching asking people to please treat black people fair. I rather make some money and make you all respect what I’m saying. At the end of the day, America runs on capitalism. I really feel like that. Then I look around, there weren’t any black people there. Everyone was talking about how racist they were, so I went to see for myself. Nobody white kept me out and I’ve gone to the governors dinner three times in a row. I really wanted to put those ideas to the test. And, I’m still in the hood. I’ve been on the phone with Esquire and Time magazine and they’re all acting fascinated. I’m like why? Because I don’t believe what everyone else believes?
DX: You did see this coming though right?
Aspiring Mogul: I’m not at all mad about it. To be a black Republican in the South, there isn’t anything said on social media that I haven’t heard already. Most of the hate comes more from black folks than white folks to be honest. How can you be a group thinker? That’s my challenge to people. You’re voting Democrat because your family said it? Because you have a picture of Obama on your wall? Or do you feel like these policies affect your life? Maybe I am bold enough to stand for what I believe in. To be honest with you, it’s harder being a Christian than Republican. I’m trying to live for Jesus. This light work.
DX: So where does your situation with Carson, lend itself to your career in music?
Aspiring Mogul: I’m in the studio. I’m a Republican Christian rapper so my music is more centered around spiritual development. Ben Carson says we have to have conversations about things we don’t talk about. He’s only one saying that. I’m not going to sit here and say white privilege doesn’t exist because it does. I’m not going to sit here and say that racism doesn’t exist. It’s not about me because I see opportunities more than I see obstacles. We can preach that message. Take Black Lives Matter. If we could take those folks, take them to Wall Street, have them learn about mutual funds, stocks and investments, you’ll see a revolutionary future for all of them economically. When you know better, you do better.