A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson .Paak, and Busta Rhymes gave President Donald Trump a new nickname at the 2017 Grammys: President Agent Orange.
"I wanna thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States,” Busta Rhymes yelled out after entering the stage a couple minutes in to Tribe and .Paak’s electric joint performance. “I wanna thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. Now we come together!”
A Tribe Called Quest’s performance with .Paak — one of the many guest stars on Tribe’s 2016 album We Got It From Here... Thank You For Your Service, the reunited group’s first since 1998 — was the most political and direct of a night when most performances and presenters referenced politics more obliquely in their speeches and songs.
“Agent Orange” is, of course, the toxic herbicide that was used to strangle and kill farmland during the Vietnam War. As the US Department of Veteran Affairs explains, cancers, birth defects, and several health complications can be traced to exposure to Agent Orange, and the herbicide was eventually banned in 1971. Comparing President Trump to the toxic substance sends a message that the man is not just a volatile personality, but a threat.
Though Tribe and company weren’t afraid of dissing Trump on stage, the performance ended on a message of unity. After Busta’s declaration, a “wall” was broken through, and people of all shapes, sizes, and colors joined the group onstage. The performance ended with raised fists and the chant of “resist,” which is about as pointed as political messages get on the Grammy stage.