Hi-Caliber – Freedom-Enemy of the State

Hi-Cal was a construction worker from New Jersey, who after 9/11 became a Christian and starting calling himself a “Republican rapper.” He has performed for many thousands at Tea Party rallies, serenading this movement in their efforts to move the USA more to the right of the political spectrum.

Fans and experts of rap and hip hop might find Hi-Cal’s rhymes and beats to be pedestrian. But perhaps there is room for ideological diversity in all styles of music.

Perhaps we can now have a rap battle not of boasting but of political debate?

Bernie Sanders – This Land Is Your Land

Bernie Sanders is a Senator from Vermont. He’s running for President of the USA for 2016. Known as a passionate social justice advocate, Bernie Sanders was apparently at Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, back in 1963.

Fast forward about 25 years, to Sanders doing an album of folk songs. Well, he doesn’t sing, but speechifies the lyrics of this most famous Woody Guthrie anthem. Maybe Sanders was paying homage to William Shatner’s cover of Mr. Tambourine Man.

Do you feel these recordings hurt or assist Sander’s effort to win the candidacy of the Democrats for the next election?

The Legendary K.O. – George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People

Back in 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused much damage along the Gulf coast, from central Florida to Texas. Many observers felt the President, George W. Bush, didn’t do enough. More than one million Americans were uprooted, there was a huge economic impact and much negative environmental consequences. And it seemed government disaster response was slow, especially in regards to the flooding of New Orleans. The President directed the department of Homeland Security to oversee assistance. They sort of delegated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But an apparent lack of planning and coordination led to resignations and replacements of key officials. It seemed unique (and disappointing) to many, that international relief organizations had to come into the world’s superpower of a country to assist.

Governments have disaster response plans. We never know how good they are until they must be implemented.

Related: Tragically Hip, New Orleans Is Sinking

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

US Senator John McCain might hold the record for most times, for using songs without the permission of the artists. He used Van Halen’s Right Now. He’s also had John Mellancamp upset for using “Our Country.” Heart didn’t like McCain spinning “Barracuda.”

Other songs McCain pinched without approval: John Mellancamp’s “Pink Houses,” The Foo Fighter’s “My Hero,” Abba’s “Take A Chance on Me,” Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” and Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty.”

These are from McCain’s 2008 run for President as a Republican. He lost to Barack Obama.

Are there more?

Tom Petty objected to the Arizona Senator using “I Won’t Back Down.”

The general lyrics about not giving up in the face of adversity do fit well for an election campaign theme song. It was also a popular song on the radio following 9/11.

Not again!:

Petty had his 1989 song copped again, but this time by a non-politician. Petty got co-writing credits on Sam Smith’s similar-sounding “Stay With Me” (2014), even though he didn’t think it was such a big deal.

Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts…


From 2004, alternative country singer Earle looks around backyards, the street, his home town and even his dreams, for a revolution to start. He doesn’t say for why or too much for what, beyond helping people that are “without.”

It’s widely thought he was singing optimistically for the 2004 US presidential election to be that revolution. At the time of this song’s release, that election was a mere season away.

That November, incumbent George W. Bush for the Republicans triumphed over Democratic candidate John Kerry. Bush received a shade over half of the popular vote.

No doubt Steve Earle was disappointed: he had a different revolution in mind!

What is a revolution? Ask the Clash.

Sting – Brand New Day

It’s probably a love song, of a person in a relationship wishing they could start over. Brand new days, turning the ship around, starting over, turning back the clock… but these lyrics are all speech cliches politicians frequently employ. No wonder then, that this song has been a popular choice for campaigners.

The Sting song has the distinction of being appropriated by both the Republican and Democrat parties in the US, and for the same election! George W. Bush (Republican) and Al Gore (Democrat) battled for the presidency, while snapping their fingers to Sting. This was in 2000.

Sting didn’t like either of them using his song. We could stretch this into sounding nonpartisan.

Partisanship is like when a person or organization is a staunch defender of their candidate or political party, quite rigidly. It is not a flexible stance. Your side has the answers. Compromise? Never. Working together with “the other guys,” for common goals, is not on the menu.

So, nonpartisanship by the book means an individual or organization such as a think tank or social service provider, is not affiliated to a political party or candidate. It can also relate to elections for government offices that do not go by political parties. This is common at the city/local government level and for school boards.

More reflectively, nonpartisanship carries other understandings.

A nonpartisan could be someone who is very open-minded, politically. Unofficially, it could be a position of indecision at the present time. Or they are apathetic or ignorant.

Saying you are non-partisan could be a white lie to avoid fractious political discussions, even if you are stuck hard on your beliefs, privately. You just don’t feel like getting into it.

More slyly, declaring oneself above the fray of petty politics, and thus, nonpartisan, could be a fallacious argumentative tactic. That is, saying, “our” side is above the dickering, small-mindedness of our opponents that focus on political conflict… we transcend politics and just focus on what is right or what matters most. This tactic is designed to make it seem like opponents are not as worthy. But it’s highly partisan. It’s a partisan non-partisanship.

Still others may claim non-partisanship to draw attention to themselves, as being somehow superior or more evolved, in a narcissistic manner?

Ash Ft. Blidboy – Billkamcha

This song asks people to report government corruption and encourage political transparency in Tunisia. Billkamcha is a crowd sourcing platform for this purpose. Hip hop (and this cause) has been an outlet for youth movements in the country that are frustrated with employment prospects, and that believe that the new government is not much changed from the old.

Elections came to this north African country after the 2011 “Arab Spring.” Tunisia has a constitution that aims to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Outsiders have praised the efforts of the country to enhance and maintain respect and adherence to tolerance and overall, human rights. There is progress to be made, all the same.

It could be the tensions and challenges come not just from government, but from society: the people. The republic struggles with addressing violent Islamic terrorist attacks that have targeted tourists. It struggles with youth that may have chosen radical Islamic outlets to commit these crimes.

The public policy response to terrorism has been aggressive counter terrorism efforts. Yet then, the Tunisian government is open to criticism for being too heavy handed. It’s a tight rope walk.

At any rate, these struggles are being articulated and vented about, and maybe even sorted out, through music.