Ignoring Hip-Hop Ensures a Democratic President in 2016

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards. He is the best-selling author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” a book known as an industry “must read.” Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Torossian lives in Manhattan with his wife and children. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


Hip-Hop-graffiti1[This is the third part of Ronn Torossian’s three-part series on why hip-hop and Jay-Z are worthy of America’s respect. To read part 1, click here, for part 2, click here.]

Wise conservatives might ask why Barack Obama was re-elected despite terrible approval ratings. According to Gallup, Obama averaged 49.1% job approval during his first term in office.  His performance was subpar, he broke repeated promises, and the economy still struggled, yet he was handily re-elected. Despite the facts that it will be an 8-year Obama reign and that there’s no strong GOP candidate, conservatives continue to claim to know it all.

Conservatives don’t open their minds – and Democrats are likely to win the election again in 2016.  Conservative ideology shouldn’t be changed – it is right and the left is wrong on the issues.

However, dictating to people what they should listen to and how they should dress is un-American. Hip-hop crosses all racial and ethnic lines – all across the country. Conservatives who endlessly criticize hip-hop are wrong and don’t understand what hip-hop is. They also don’t have a clue what their children are listening to, nor do they have any clue how to affect popular culture.  Wake up – the world has changed.

On college campuses nationwide, youth listen to hip-hop. Leaving aside the fact that hip-hop crosses all racial boundaries, are these haters aware that hip-hop’s largest consumer base is the Hispanic community? With the continued growth of Hispanics in America, how does the GOP intend to capture these votes? Consider hip-hop. It is so hypocritical for pro-capitalism conservatives to hate on an entire industry which has such mass appeal.

Hip-hop has empowered a whole new generation of people who were previously disenfranchised. Few American industries are more entrepreneurial than hip-hop. 

Take these lyrics from Ma$e:

“Now what the hell is you lookin’ for?/ Can’t a young man get money anymore?/ Let my pants sag down to the floor/ Really do it matter as long as I score?”

In America, whether you wear a hoodie like Mark Zuckerberg or a 3-piece suit, indeed you can succeed. In a shock to some who read this site, kids today grow up wanting to be entrepreneurs, not doctors or lawyers. Hip-hop encourages that. We don’t want government hand-outs, we want to earn our money.  Conservatives should let hip-hop fans know they don’t judge and accept people who want to create their own rule book.

So many of us, whether it is Jamie Glazov, the editor of Front Page Magazine, who came to this country as a refugee, or me, Ronn Torossian, who grew up in the Bronx with a single mother, need role models and people we can relate to. Kids today who don’t have huge opportunities need positive thinking – and so too do people of all ages. That’s offered in hip-hop.  Take the words of Eminem, who says, “You can do anything you set your mind to,” or the greatest rapper alive, Jay-Z, who says, “I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.” Dreaming big is important and hip-hop allows us to envision and realize those dreams. In contrast, Americans don’t see government officials as enviable no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.

My children are blessed to attend private school with very smart and well-connected kids and families – I wasn’t able to do that. Thankfully, they have so many opportunities I didn’t have, and the non-stop work ethic is something that is hard for many of us to associate with good ol’ boys in the GOP.  Can’t the GOP adopt some of the quotes and language from hip-hop to widen its base?

Sean “Diddy” Combs has a work ethic unlike anyone else. As he says, “I demand the best. Sleep is forbidden. If you work for me, you have to roll how I roll. I’m not really human. I’m like a machine.”  Or Will Smith, a brilliant actor, whom so many watched on TV as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Smith said, “The first step before anyone else in the world believes it, is that YOU have to believe it.”  They are so right — and we need to know we don’t need to go to Harvard to be successful and make it. Why not identify with these people and let them know that the conservative movement believes they should be rewarded for their hard work, by paying lower taxes and keeping more of their money? Conservatives would gain so many votes.

How about this gem from Birdman? “Your work ethic has to be to the ceiling. You’re gonna get out of this what you’re putting into it.” And while the conservative movement struggles with ways to balance social values with a conservative ethos, aren’t there “values” related issues on which we can cooperate? 

Take Jay-Z’s great song “Mama I made it”:

“I told you one day I’d get you a home /I didn’t know it could possibly be in Rome/ Told me don’t wait on nobody get your own/ So with me myself and my microphone I made it. … Mama I made it.”

Is it not completely hypocritical to attack these lyrics or values?  How many welfare cases have become millionaires because of hip-hop?  How many honest businessmen used to be criminals because of hip-hop?

Sean “Diddy” Combs, whose father was killed when he was 33, was a criminal. Yet he says: “This is my plan. When I’m in the studio making a hit record, I’m not trying to make a hit record; I’m making one. This is what I studied. This is why I stay up twenty hours a day.” His children will have great opportunities in America – and that’s the American way.  True conservative values.

LL Cool J, the rare Republican in hip-hop, said, “Success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying.”  If one reads the comments from conservatives on recent FrontPage hip-hop related articles, we are destined to fail yet again amongst the young and amongst pop culture because our minds are closed. Conservatives aren’t trying – they know it all. It’s unfortunate.

A classic hip-hop song, one I remember hearing ad naseum in the Bronx in the 1980s, featured a rapper named Special Ed rapping, “I’m talented, yes I’m gifted/ Never boosted, never shoplifted/ I got the cash, but money ain’t nothing.” I remember hearing countless people understand the importance of making money and doing good things in the world.  Even if one is unconventional, he should seek to make big things happen. Closing out hip-hop completely is simply absurd and a definite way to close out major segments of America.  It’s a major mistake.

Every day before I go to work, I listen to Jay-Z’s “My 1st Song,” as it inspires me to work hard and always challenge myself for more:

I’m just, tryin to stay above water y’know/ Just stay busy, stay workin/ Puff told me like, the key to this joint/ The key to staying, on top of things/ is treat everything like it’s your first project, knahmsayin? Like it’s your first day like back when you was an intern/ Like, that’s how you try to treat things like, just stay hungry/ Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first/ And my thirst is the same as – when I came/ It’s my joy and my tears and my laughter it brings to me/ It’s my ev-ery-thing/ Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first/ And my thirst like the first song I sang.

My PR firm has grown because we will not be outworked – no one will ever try harder than us.

President Obama will go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever. One of the reasons is that he has made an enemy out of anyone domestically who disagrees with him. The many conservatives who have issues with hip-hop should make more of an effort to understand the movement and why it appeals to so many who are outside of the norm. Don’t make them your enemies, especially since Hispanics keep growing in America.

The world has changed. There’s a multi-racial President in the White House.  It’s not all the same as it used to be. Conservatives should start figuring out how to move on and capture more youth, minority, and Hispanic votes, or they can forget winning an election for the near future. 

The challenge, as Jay-Z put it in “A Dream,” is “Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself.” The GOP needs to open the tent to people who understand the reality of America in 2014 and beyond.

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  • 8ball

    What idiocy is next for FPM? After embracing discordant, nerve racking, Rap Crap are we supposed to support Choice and SSM?

  • The Facts

    Here’s a Hip Hop song for you. You even get a shout out.
    http://youtu.be/dTAex-AHprM

    • laura r

      i like it. but i couldnt get the entire message.

  • LibertyLinda

    I completely disagree, I will not succumb to the cultural trash started by gangsters and is part of the cultural destruction of our country perpetuated by the Lib Leftists. Conservatives do NOT have to succumb to this garbage, just like they don’t have to “ignore social issues”. Conservative, Constitutional principles is inclusive of all groups of people and promotes the freedom for you to like rap and for me to turn it off – without Government intervention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 aemoreira81

    Ignoring the music aspect of things (as the music itself is something I don’t see as relevant per se), if Republicans want to reach new potential voters, they are going to have to advertise on media to which that potential audience listens, even if it is historically off-limits. This includes advertisements on urban radio formats (and out-of-home ads in the same areas) as well as on local ad time sold by cable operators on channels like BET (which is among the top-25 channels in the 18-49 demographic) and TVOne to at least spread the message into areas that are historically solid Democrat blocs…and often Democrat by default. (Not referring to hip-hop here, but) there is a reason why Pandora (internet radio) places ads for Democrat candidates on its jazz stations and ads for Republican candidates on country radio…with little backlash…because those listeners traditionally do trend that way at the ballot box (multiple articles have been written on this). That ignored urban audience is a swing vote in certain states.

    Notice what I did not say: compromise values. The problem that the Republican Party has is a communications problem. Obama won election twice because he had a 50-state strategy, while Republicans have tended to retreat instead of expand the electoral map.

  • Texas Patriot

    What’s odd is the idea that conservatives should embrace hiphop culture but reject the very traditional Christian Catholic culture of Hispanic Americans. Doesn’t sound very conservative to me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 aemoreira81

      I don’t think that the author means embrace the culture per se, but rather try to reach its listeners. The issue is a communications problem.

      • laura r

        i was R&B all the way. hip hop can be a good progression. but then again, i admit there is alot of trash out there. the lesser know people are sometimes the best.

        • Texas Patriot

          There is no comparison between R&B and hiphop. R&B grew out of the Southern Christian Gospel Music culture which also led to the great genres of rock & roll and rockabilly. Hiphop is a product of the nihilist philosophies of the Left and has nothing to do with authentic Christian values.

          • laura r

            the good hip hop has a gospel feeling. the junk is just noice w/no musical roots. philosophies are different w/each hip hop artist the piece.

          • Texas Patriot

            laura r: the good hip hop has a gospel feeling.

            Glad to hear it.

  • FrontPgSubscr

    The ‘Right’ DID NOT seal its fate (so to speak) by ignoring “Hip-Hop”, but they
    have been ignoring much bigger issues where they could make an impact in
    lives … WITHOUT pandering to Hip-Hop (that’s pretty shallow thinking)!! First
    step is to differentiate, if not dissociate, themselves from the banker and globalist (communitarian) crowd, and engage, time-wise, in day-to-day activities where
    average people are.

  • seewithyourowneyes

    I’ll support hip-hop if hip-hop “artists” will submit to a Paula Deen-style public show trial, complete with tears, confessions, apologies and begging for forgiveness. Snoop, Jay-Z, all of them, crying and begging for forgiveness for promoting drugs and violence against women.

  • liz

    This is a ridiculous argument. Conservatism is a set of political principles, not musical preferences. I’ve never been to a tea party or republican meeting where they demanded to know the musical tastes of anyone before they were allowed through the door. Anyone who shares conservative political views is welcomed.
    If people who listen to hip hop want to join the conservatives in supporting conservative causes, who is stopping them???

  • jeffrahal

    Best part of the entire article? This quote: “This is the third part of Ronn Torossian’s three-part series…” It’s over. Reminds me of the old Johnny Carson “Carnac” skit, when the crowd would cheer like mad when Ed would say,”our final question tonight.”

  • Ace Boogie

    Hey Ron Torossian, let me help you out with something. Conservatives are who they are because of what they believe. The type of music they listen to or embrace is not going to make a dyed in the wool leftist democrat become, or vote for a republican. Furthermore, there are a lot of hard working successful people that use their success to undermine the founding principles of America. By your own admission, none of the success attained by hip hop artists has made them conservative. Saying to them, ‘I like your music’ or how you wear your clothes will gain us not a vote or a contribution. You aim to appease – I aim to defeat them at every turn.

  • Dino Brava

    Drug dealers practice capitalism. Why isn’t the GOP pandering to meth dealers? Murder-for-hire is a capitalist enterprise….the GOP should really go after the Mafia vote! This article is ridiculous. I noticed the author conveniently omitted the pervasive drug culture, extreme sexism, and abusive violence that is all but required in Hip Hop lyrics. Hmmm, gain the Hip Hop nation and lose your base…..sounds like a great plan!! Idiot!