ABC News presented the world with a new radio ad from Ben Carson on Thursday morning. The campaign is spending $150,000 to air the ad for two weeks in Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and a number of other Southern cities.
And here it is:
So, yes, that's a hip-hop track, featuring rapper Aspiring Mogul (who Carson has shouted out before). The target, fairly obviously, is urban radio networks and young, black voters.
The lyrics, which will become important in a second:
Heal. (Vote.) Inspire. (Vote.) Revive.
Ben Carson, twenty-sixteen.
Vote and support Ben Carson
For our next president. It'd be awesome.
(Clips of Carson speaking)
"America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation -- and that's what will get us on the right track now."
"I really hope I'm not the only one who's willing to pick up the baton of freedom. Because freedom is not free and we must fight for it everyday. Every one of us must fight for it because we're fighting for our children and the next generation."
If we want to get America back on track
We gotta vote Ben Carson, a matter of fact.
Go out and vote.
As a fan of hip-hop music, my first impression was not entirely favorable. It has something of a Steve-Buscemi-fellow-kids vibe to it. But since my taste in hip-hop came under fire recently, I decided to reach out to someone who knows the industry much better.
Talib Kweli has been performing for 20 years, gaining fame first as part of Black Star in which he and Yasiin Bey (also/then known as Mos Def) rapped over tracks produced by DJ Hi-Tek. (It was the best alliance in hip-hop, y-o.) Since then, Kweli has had a successful solo career. Recently, he offered his thoughts on the music from the play "Hamilton" for New York magazine. He's currently touring Europe, so we reached out over e-mail to get his thoughts on the Carson track.
Now, there's an important bit of context here. Kweli is not shy about his political leanings, which do not align with Carson's. (His Twitter account will make that very obvious very quickly.) Given that even Carson was amazed to find a conservative black rapper when he plugged Aspiring Mogul on Facebook, we're going to go with it.
My questions are in italics. Kweli's responses, a bit edited, follow.
What do you think of the track on the whole? Lyrics/beat?
There were no lyrics. Just random statements. "Carson" doesn't even really rhyme with "awesome."
Also, America absolutely became great because it was flooded with people who believed in the value of hard work. They were called slaves, and they weren't asked permission.
Does this strike you as an effective way of reaching out to young, black voters?
The most effective way for Ben Carson to reach out to young black voters is to actually care about other black people, which Ben Carson has proven to be incapable of. When you say things like "Obamacare is the worst thing that's happened to America since slavery" and describe the youth-driven Black Lives Matter as "sickening" and accuse them of "bullying" people, who cares about your rap ad?
Even if it was good, which it isn't, no one would care.
Do you think you'd look at this differently if Carson weren't black? If Jeb Bush released this, for example, how would that change things?
I almost feel like Jeb Bush has more respect for the black vote than Carson. I couldn't imagine him being this pandering to black people. And I'm no fan of Jeb Bush. Jeb could have probably found a better rapper too.
If you were given this track and 10 minutes to make it better, what would you do?
Remove the vague nonsensical quotes they chose from Dr. Carson and replace them with quotes that more accurately reflect what he believes. Like "What's in it for me? I hate to say it, but a lot of it started with the women's lib movement," or "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of the nation." And then I would remove the rapper. And lose the track. The ad would just be Ben Carson spewing nonsense.
That is what an observer of music criticism would call a "pan."
I also invited Kweli to give the track a letter grade. He gave it an "F," because there is another word that starts with F that Kweli used in describing the song.