When Nicki Minaj joked about voting for Mitt Romney in a recent song, rhyming “I’m a Republican, voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy bitches is fucking up the econ’my,” it was a useful reminder that, while hip-hop has, at times, been a genre that relies heavily on claims of authenticity, rappers don’t actually intend to follow through on every declarative statement they make in song. But while “To The World,” Kanye West’s leaked track from his forthcoming Cruel Summer album, is probably not a useful tool for determining whether Mr. West will vote for President Obama, or evaluating Sen. Harry Reid’s claims that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes in some years, the line “I’m just trying to protect my stacks, Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax, Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax,” is actually worth paying attention to:
One of the central goals of the Obama reelection campaign has been to firmly fix the idea that Mitt Romney is an out-of-touch rich guy, someone who likes firing people, who ships his money overseas, who refuses to release his tax returns, probably because there’s something truly awful in them. If that narrative is sufficiently accepted that West can use Romney as shorthand for tax evasion, that’s an indicator of the larger success of that strategy. I’m not saying that a single hip-hop lyric is a weathervane of the election. But it’s not a bad sign that an idea is gaining some traction.