Bernie Sanders apparently knows where the hood’s at. The Vermont senator who has won over hip-hop artists such as Nas, Big Boi and Killer Mike made headlines this week after a video went viral that showed him at a campaign rally in Lancaster, California, as DMX’s “Where the Hood At” thumped in the background.
The Sanders campaign is looking to topple Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by besting her in California’s Democratic primary next month. But DMX Lyrics such as “ya n----- must be outcha f------ mind,” and “where the hood, where the hood, where the hood at? Have that n---- in the cut, where the wood at?” aren’t exactly family-friendly.
And it’s not like DMX cuts a wholesome image. The New York rapper has a litany of legal woes, including failure to pay child support, weapons charges, impersonating an FBI agent and possession of marijuana.
Edwin Acuna, who edited the video, said he added the song to the campaign event as a joke. "Standing in the crowd waiting for Senator Sanders can lead to daydreaming, and it did just that. It started with thinking how funny it would be if I edited a video to make it seem as if Bernie walked out to DMX, but after waiting a bit longer, I decided I'd turn it into a social experiment," he told Billboard.
Symone D. Sanders, national press secretary for Bernie Sanders' camp, ended up having to dismiss the video's authenticity after media outlets, including International Business Times, wrote about the video. "Never thought I'd have to say this, but no @BernieSanders did not walk out to a #DMX song in Lancaster earlier this week," she tweeted. "Here is how @BernieSanders really entered the Lancaster rally...to epic cheers from the crowd!"
Sanders is no stranger to hip-hop culture at this point. The silver-haired senator from the very white state of Vermont has been burnishing his 'hood credentials for months now, picking up endorsements from influential rappers and even making a stop at the Coachella music festival in California. While such moves might not help Sanders defeat Clinton, who is far ahead in the race for delegates, they’ve certainly endeared him to many hip-hop artists and their fans. Below are Sanders’ nine most hip-hop moments on the campaign trail.
1. Killer Mike helped introduce the hip-hop community to Sanders in November when he introduced the Democratic presidential candidate to a crowd of 5,000 at Atlanta’s Fox Theater. “I have said in many a rap, I don’t trust the church or the government, a Democrat, Republican, a pope, a bishop or those other men,” the rapper said. “But after spending five hours tonight, after spending five hours with someone who has spent the last 50 years radically fighting for your rights and mine, I can tell you that I am very proud tonight to announce the next president of the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders.”
Mike’s relationship with Sanders grew after the men ate fried chicken and yams together at Atlanta’s Busy Bee Cafe and then discussed policy issues at Mike’s barbershop, the SWAG Shop. The Atlanta rapper has since introduced Sanders at various campaign rallies.
2. Legendary New York rapper Nas tentatively threw his support behind Sanders in March, noting that Killer Mike had turned him on to the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist’s platform.
“You know, before I knew that Killer Mike was involved with Bernie, I liked what I was hearing about him,” Nas told The Daily Beast. “I liked the people who were supporting him. And Killer Mike, once I saw that he was with him. … We talked on the phone a couple of days ago. He was enlightening me about Bernie and we plan to have more conversations about him. I actually like what Bernie’s talking about!”
3. Sanders was endorsed by Swae Lee of the hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd during his South By Southwest show in March. “F--- Donald Trump. We’re voting for Bernie Sanders,” Swae Lee said during the pair’s “Up Like Trump” performance.
4. Sanders introduced hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, comprised of Killer Mike and El-P, at the Coachella Main Stage in April. “One of the highlights of running for president over the course of this last year has been getting to know Killer Mike,” he told the crowd. The rap duo then performed their set in front of an image of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and a pig’s head.
5. In February, Sanders called in to The Breakfast Club, hip-hop’s most influential radio show, to detail his free college and expanded Medicare plans. “It is Wall Street’s time to help the middle class,” he said at the time. He conceded: “I’m not gonna tell you I’m very knowledgeable about Hip Hop.”
6. Bun B endorsed Sanders in December during a “Hip Hop for Bernie Sanders” podcast. “It’s about awareness,” Bun B said to hosts Mark Sonzala and Fat Tony, another Texas rapper, during the episode. “You know, so we wanted to let people know early on how we rock. You know what I’m saying? We’re not telling people to rock with us, but we’re letting them know how we rock.”
7. DJ Steve Porter, known for remixing hip-hop videos, made a rap song from a mashup of Sanders’ speeches called “Bern It Up.” “Bernie is an absolute heavy-metal rock star,” Porter told Rolling Stone at the time, “and his middle-class message deserved an anthem. Hopefully ‘Bern It Up’ is it!”
8. Big Boi of Atlantic rap duo OutKast was an early Sanders supporter, telling Rap Radar Podcast hosts Elliott Wilson and B. Dot in September he no longer wanted to describe himself as a Libertarian voter.
“I thought I was a Libertarian but I ain’t on nobody’s team,” he said. “I’m a humanitarian. I’m for Bernie Sanders because he’s with prison reform and things like that. But really I’m for … getting people out of poverty and people sentenced to these long, unjust prison sentences out of jail, and the legalization of marijuana.”
9. Sanders travels with Mel, a world-renowned, Austin-based DJ who got the tunes flowing on President Barack Obama’s re-election night in 2012. Among the songs Mel has played to get the crowds roaring for Sanders are George Clinton’s “Not Just Knee-Deep” and a sample from Dre's “The Next Episode.”
“I believe in Bernie,” Mel told The Observer.
Correction: A viral video showing Bernie Sanders addressing supporters as DMX blared in the background was edited. Sanders' campaign did not use the song.