Trill Politics: Bun B Takes on the South Carolina Republican Primary

The results are in: Trump topped South Carolina, followed by a virtually tied Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Jeb is officially out, and it seems like only a matter of time before Ben Carson and John Kasich follow suit.

One face that we hope to keep seeing on the presidential campaign trail is Bun B’s. Yes, you read that correctly. The Houston hip-hop legend, Underground King and adjunct faculty member at Rice University has been on the ground for the past few weeks covering the electoral sideshow for Vice with the same baritone cadence and no-nonsense delivery that mark his greatest 16’s.

Mind you, this is no joke. Bun is a legitimate journalist. Check out the latest installment of his campaign coverage, a 17-minute report from the field of South Carolina’s Republican primary. What emerges is not a series of easily digestible stereotypes of white Southern idiocy, but in reality a stark portrait of small towns that time seem to have left behind, that have very little reason to believe anything the government tells them about immanent progress.

Consider for a moment Bun’s assessment of the worldview that he expects to encounter on his way to a Donald Trump rally:

“I don’t believe that all poor white people are racist. Right, I just don’t believe that at all. The problem that the poor white man has with the poor black man is that the poor white man and the poor black man can have the same grades, but there’s an initiative to help the poor black man succeed, because of the way they’ve been held down. White people don’t look at poor white people like they’ve been held back. They look at poor white people and say you’re lazy, you’re inbred trash. It’s very hard out here for the poor white man. He’s fighting for his identity.”

This is not to say that Bun thinks Trump ought to be elected. Far from it, as he lets us know before and after attending the rally. But that’s precisely what makes his work as a journalist so great; he is an open-minded and empathetic interviewer, a good listener who saves his commentary for direct addresses to the viewer. In an era where fact and opinion get confused and masqueraded like it’s nobody’s business, we could all use a little more of this trill disposition in our conversations with people on different points of the spectrum of American culture and politics.

Alex Oka