clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Snoop Dogg is Trump’s latest pop culture target

Snoop Dogg fired a toy gun at a clown Trump in a new video. The president fired back on Twitter.

Snoop Dogg
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

President Trump took to Twitter — twice — on Wednesday to share his irritated reaction to Snoop Dogg’s “Lavender” music video, which features the rapper shooting a toy gun at a clown version of the president.

The video, for Snoop’s remix of a song from the Canadian band BadBadNotGood featuring Kaytranada, has been viewed more than 2 million times since its debut on March 12. Co-directed by viral YouTube prankster Jesse Wellens, it skewers everything from police violence to the mainstream media, portraying them all as clowns, and portraying white culture more generally as clownish from a black perspective. The mock shooting of "Ronald Klump” occurs at 3:00.

Trump responded to the video on Wednesday morning, first from his personal Twitter account, and then with an identical tweet sent hours later from the official presidential account.

This isn’t the first time Snoop has publicly taken on Trump. In 2011, the rapper, wielding his “pimp” persona, fired off a round of zingers at Trump during a Comedy Central roast, including some that, in retrospect, might be hard for many people to laugh at:

I wish that I had half of your money. But for that you need a 20-year-old’s pussy and a divorce lawyer.”

“Donald’s saying he wants to run for president and move into the White House. Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve pushed a black family out of their home.”

By this year, Snoop was openly criticizing Trump, announcing plans to roast anyone who performed at Trump’s inauguration. And he minced no words about his intentions with the “Lavender” video, telling Billboard he wanted it to be “real to the voice of the people who don’t have a voice”:

The ban that this motherf--ker tried to put up; him winning the presidency; police being able to kill motherf--kers and get away with it; people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years and motherf--kers that’s not black on the streets making money off of it -- but if you got color or ethnicity connected to your name, you’ve been wrongfully accused or locked up for it, and then you watching people not of color position themselves to get millions and billions off of it. It’s a lot of clown sh-t going on that we could just sit and talk on the phone all day about, but it’s a few issues that we really wanted to lock into [for the video] like police, the president and just life in general.

By tweeting in response to the video, Trump may be making use of Snoop’s anger. The newly leaked partial copy of Trump’s 2005 tax return — which some speculate might have been leaked by Trump himself — and now the Snoop Dogg dust-up has raised the question of whether the president is seeking to distract from the backlash over the Republican attempt to replace Obamacare, as well as what looks increasingly like an impending FBI investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. It wouldn’t be the first time the president lashed out at pop culture arguably in order to provide a distraction from public backlash.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters have demanded that Snoop apologize to the president for the video.

“It's totally disgraceful. Snoop owes the president an apology,” Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told TMZ on Wednesday. “There's absolutely nothing funny about an assassination attempt on a president, and I'm really shocked at him because I thought he was better than that.”

Trump’s take, that the rapper’s screed would have landed him in jail had he pointed his toy gun at President Obama, is an exaggerated claim, given that the video is protected under the First Amendment as a form of satirical social protest.

As for Trump’s assertion of Snoop’s “failing” career, it’s admittedly been a while since Snoop’s milestone 1993 album Doggystyle went quadruple platinum. But despite that, Snoop clearly still knows how to strike a nerve.