I want to discuss three texts that contribute to my overall understanding of “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump.” The first is the official music video for the song, which encapsulates so much of the it’s meaning and place in modern political culture. The second is a live performance of the song from JPEGMAFIA and Freaky at a venue called The Bell Foundry. The Bell Foundry is a space for Baltimore artists to come together and create art. The third text is a long-form video called “The Southern Strategy.” JPEG and Freaky made it to go along with their collaborative album, “The 2nd Amendment,” in the same time period in which “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump” was released. It showcases imagery that directly aligns with the song’s message and the political environment at the time (and now).

The official video allowed me to explore being in the shoes of Donald Trump voters back in 2016. With this being a Trump protest song, it’s an incredibly important idea to address. There are a few elements in the video I want to highlight. Firstly, JPEGMAFIA, Freaky and their crew are circling around a Bel Air, Maryland, (suburban) neighborhood cul-de-sac in a Cadillac Coupe DeVille, all while sporting MAGA attire (hats, posters, etc). There’s a lot going on right from the get-go, some self-explanatory, but the Cadillac specifically is incredibly interesting. It’s iconic imagery, largely representative of America as a whole. In short, it’s an exceedingly American car. So, right from the start, the audience gets a snapshot of America, MAGA hats and all.

To quickly point out another aspect of the video, there’s a shot of an older white man peering out a window of one of the suburban houses with a pistol in his hand.  It’s reminiscent of the St. Louis couple who waved their guns at Black Lives Matter supporters. It shows the hostility and fear that some white people have for Black people. There is a complete disconnect, which adds to the racism that is pointed out in the song and further drawn upon in the video.

The second text I want to discuss is the  live performance. While watching the video, I wrote down a few descriptive adjectives: “grimy,” “underground,” “angry,” and “chaotic.” Everyone is jumping around, JPEGMAFIA is screaming his verse and there is a general sense of high energy. Through all of that, there is still purpose. Everyone in the room seems to be on the same page. That’s how I feel when listening to the song itself. While the production and delivery are chaotic, the point is clear: to call out racism that exists in mainstream American culture. There’s an acceptance for it, which is of course detestable. JPEG wants there to be action that opposes evils associated with racism, something that’s clear in the passionate live performance.

Finally, I want to discuss “The Southern Strategy.”  The first ten minutes of the video are a replaying of racist political ads and commentary from the political elite. This idea falls in line with the song and the political culture because, as previously mentioned, racism has existed and currently exists in the mainstream, perhaps most problematically/systemically in politics.

The second half of the video is odd, I must say. However, the imagery is powerful. We see white people doing white-face and living in filth. There’s lawn chairs, an umbrella, floaties, a grill… things one might picture as “white trash.” JPEGMAFIA, Freaky and their crew are wearing vacation clothes, looking like tourists. They’re taking photos and invading the white peoples’ space, treating them as less than (like specimens) and vandalizing property. This is perhaps a metaphor for what white people have done to Black communities for over 400 years.. It gets at larger messages laid out in the song, largely that a racist system has allowed injustices to occur on a daily basis, which is seen in the political landscape, now and throughout history.

All of these expressions have allowed me to recognize how different media can expand and articulate a specific message. Messaging is so critical in any form of protest. For this specific protest anthem, there is a lot more to it than the audio itself.