We are in the middle of a contentious election year and while many are divided across party lines and are eagerly waiting to cast their vote on November 6, some rappers are speaking out against the process.
The latest artist to join the, “I don’t vote,” coalition is Compton’s own, Kendrick Lamar.
In a recent interview with TheTruthIsScary.com Lamar told the reporter that voting is useless because there are other forces controlling the outcome.
“My vote counts? I don’t do no voting. I will keep it straight up real with you. I don’t believe in none of the shit that’s going on in the world,” he said. “You talk with me, you talk with me for hours because everything has a contradiction, everything is higher ranking and way beyond us, way beyond people. So basically, do what you do, do good with your people and live your life because what’s going on isn’t really in our hands. If it’s not in the president’s hands, then it’s really not in yours.
“When I say the president can’t even control the world, then you definitely know there’s something else out there pushing the buttons,” he continued. “They could do whatever they want to do, we all puppets. Just play your cards right.”
Lamar isn’t the only rapper to admit he doesn’t vote. Outspoken emcee Lupe Fiasco is also a proud non-voter, arguing that getting involved with politics is meaningless.
“I don’t vote. No I don’t vote. I don’t get involved in politics. It’s meaningless. To be honest,” he told CBS News last summer in an interview in which he called President Obama a terrorist. “If I’m going to say I stand behind this person and write on a piece of paper that says, ‘yeah I stand for this person,’ then I have to take responsibility for everything he does cause that’s just who I am as a human being. So politicians aren’t going to do that because I don’t want you to bomb some village in the middle of nowhere.”
Brooklyn emcee and activist Talib Kweli admitted that his voting stance has changed as he’s gotten older. Although he once thought the process was useless, he now knows that raising and supporting good candidates who will change the system from the inside is best for the community.
“Citizenship is participation. I’m someone who has placed myself directly at the center and at the heart of things that are going on in my community,” he explained to the Huffington Post. “As I get older my stance on voting has shifted from saying ‘ refuse to participate’ to ‘How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?’ We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”
While hip hop has historically been one of the most outspoken political art forms in the nation and several in the industry like Russell Simmons and Diddy continue to champion voting and political participation, I wonder what type of affect rappers have over their teenage audience’s voting preferences.
Our history is one in which many died so that we could have the right to vote and be members of the this imperfect political process, and in many swing states–where the game is literally about getting as many people to the polls as possible–it’s clear that voting does indeed matter and decide the course of our country.