The context for JPEGMAFIA’s “I Might Vote  Donald Trump” is Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The song was released in May, 2016, before the election. It’s important to understand Trump’s racist history to see how it manifested it’s way into his campaign. During various speeches and statements, Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” he called for a ban on all Muslims, he refused to condemn white supremacists and he repeatedly used dog whistle terms like “law and order” to push rhetorical messages. That’s just to name a few things, not taking into account his pervasive misogyny as well.

All of this created an environment where JPEGMAFIA and Freaky felt the need to call out exactly what was occurring at the time. This song isn’t, for lack of a better term, ‘edgy,’ or whatever word someone might use to articulate radical views. It simply observes what’s going on in the political and cultural climates. JPEGMAFIA and Freaky’s verses (they wrote their own verses) do an excellent job of expressing those observations.

The song’s genre, being experimental Hip-Hop, offers a framework to question convention and what might be seen as normal. Rosenthal and Flacks do a good job of explaining this by saying, “If working within a genre presents a framework that is one factor in guiding a listener’s (and artist’s) interpretation of meaning, challenging those conventions may be an even more obvious point for message and meaning” (Rosenthal and Flacks 57). The experimental nature of this song, pushing the genre’s boundaries, allows the listener to better question reality. As a result, it significantly adds to the protest anthem and its messaging as a whole.

The song’s lyrics provoke thought surrounding the United States social and political landscapes. In an interview, JPEGMAFIA described the song and the process of making it. He said, “We might just vote for Donald Trump because it shouldn’t be legal to vote for him in the first place.” He continued, “For somebody like me that talks about politics all the time, it would be too easy to just say ‘fuck Donald Trump.’ I have to make people be like ‘Why is he saying this and why are we letting them?’”

Just about every bar in this song has importance to the song’s overall meaning, so I want to point out just a few that initially stood out to me. Freaky opens the song, saying, “Dios mío,” meaning “oh my god” in Spanish. This is an immediate reference to immigration, highlighting Trump’s racist language toward Mexican people. Freaky then begins his more substantial verse, saying, “I might vote for Donald Trump, just to say I did it. I might blindly fall into a group of friends full of bigots.” The first sentence is sarcastic, pointing out, like JPEG said in his interview, that it shouldn’t be legal to vote for Trump in the first place. The second sentence exposes the Trump voters for who they are, along with pointing out the rhetoric that led them to identify as Trump voters.

The lyric from JPEG that really jumped out at me is when he says, “I brought the guns to the house, I got my feet on the couch. I don’t think y’all understand but I’m tryna bring back the south.” The first sentence sheds light on his anti-authority message, which JPEGMAFIA gets at in a lot of his songs. The second sentence is what really interests me, “I’m tryna bring back the south.” By saying this, he’s expressing the deeply-rooted and racist sentiment behind the phrase. He’s also saying that he’s prepared to go to war in order to fight against the current racist system. In other words, the Civil War didn’t just magically fix everything.

The combination of the song’s genre, context and lyrical content make it a hard-hitting protest anthem, and one that deserves further unpacking.