Hip-Hop and R&B artists: ‘Be more like Taylor Swift.’

Taylor Swift and a fan. Photo courtesy of Instagram @TaylorSwift13


Other than “Shake It Off,” I couldn’t recite lyrics from a Taylor Swift song if my life was on the line. What I do know, however, is that if Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, Chris Brown and other young R&B and hip-hop artists followed the 12-time Grammy winner’s political lead, it would have a tremendous impact on the upcoming general election.

Consider a couple months ago, on National Voter Registration Day, when Swift posted this message to her more than 270 million followers on Instagram:

“If you are registered to vote in Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas or Virginia, it’s time to use your voice.” 

According to Vote.org, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that aims to increase voting among underserved and underrepresented people, close to 40,000 new voters responded to Swift’s message. On one day from one Instagram post, the group saw a 115% jump in 18-year-olds registering to vote.

It wasn’t the only time Swift has used her influence to motivate young voters.Vote.org, with whom the singer has a partnership, has credited the singer for “huge spikes in traffic” on its website, resulting in tens of thousands of new registrations this year alone.

It tickles my soul that Swift has many conservatives losing their freakin’ minds. 

Her popularity is “a sign of national decline” and her music is “utterly defined by self-obsession rather than introspection,” wrote Mark Hemingway, columnist for the right-wing website The Federalist. Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren, defined Swift as a ‘lefty, liberal [with] brain-dead political opinions.’”

Those are but two out of dozens of conservatives now dissing Swift. Personally, I’d love to see Usher or J Cole or Sexy Red or 21 Savage in the GOP’s crosshairs because their words or lyrics also lured millions of young people to the polls.    

Some experts say that Gen-Z and millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 2012) who historically lean Democrat will make up about 49% of the voting population. This is a powerful demographic; even more so if motivated to vote in November.

The Black artists I mentioned have huge platforms, too. What’s stopping them from using their talent and fame to motivate and encourage their fan base to register and vote in what could be the most important election in their lifetimes?

I know I’m generalizing. Beyonce encouraged her “Beehive” to support Obama in 2008 and 2012 and she publicly supported Biden albeit right before the 2020 election. Surely there are other young Black musical artists who’ve discussed critical political issues.  

I know I’m an old dude. Maybe I’m just not hearing those conversations. But somehow, I’ve heard countless social media conversations about P-Diddy’s sex-capades, Cardi B and Offset’s off-and-on-again relationship, Katt Williams’ diss of Steve Harvey, Tiffany Haddish, Cedric the Entertainer and a litany of other Black comedians. 

This is all relatively trivial stuff in comparison to the political stakes at hand.

Where are the passionate conversations about the GOP’s efforts to snatch away voting rights or women’s reproductive rights? Both will disproportionately impact poor and marginalized communities. What about far right legislators (locally and nationally) intent on erasing Black history from public schools? Kids care about this, right?

Where is the outrage over a party that has labeled the January 6 insurrectionists “hostages” and a presidential candidate who has vowed to pardon those sentenced? 

Remember, it was the Trump Administration that invented the term “Black Identity Extremists” and GOP-ers who pushed a proclamation to invoke the Insurrection Act specifically aimed at Black protestors. With less than 20 Black faces on the Capitol lawn or steps, some right-leaning candidates still insist the riot was orchestrated by Black Lives Matter, Antifa and the FBI.

According to a poll of young people conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics late last year, fewer Americans ages 18 to 29 plan to vote in 2024 due in part due to widespread dissatisfaction with both President Joe Biden and his likely challenger, former President Donald Trump.

This is a not-so-subtle indication that there’s much work to be done between now and the general election in November. I’d like to see a strategic, national hip-hop political movement where rappers target their hometowns. Nelly, Murphy Lee and Chingy can lead the St. Louis effort; Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane and T.I can handle their native Atlanta, while Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent and Jay-Z lead the New York City movement.  

So, my dear young hip-hoppers, singers and entertainers, I urge you to organize, sermonize, and politically proselytize until your followers follow you to the voting booth. Be strategic, innovative, be bold, pioneering, be persuasive and influential.

In other words, be more like Swift. 

Sylvester Brown Jr. is the Deaconess Foundation Community Advocacy Fellow.



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