Snoop Dogg’s remix of a song by former Humber students BadBadNotGood has sparked political controversy and drawn the fire of U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
The expletive-laden track features Snoop rapping over BadBadNotGood’s “Lavender,” which appeared on the Toronto instrumental jazz and hip-hop group’s 2016 album IV. Snoop’s politically charged lyrics offer a commentary on Trump’s presidency, as well as race-relations and police brutality. The equally political music video depicts a world populated by clowns, highlighted by a scene where Snoop points a gun at an orange-faced, Trump-looking clown named “Ronald Klump” – Snoop pulls the trigger, releasing a flag with “bang” written on it.
Snoop addressed the video in an interview with Billboard magazine, offering a candid explanation for the clip. “Nobody’s dealing with the real issue with this f–king clown as president, and the shit that we dealing with out here,” he said.
BadBadNotGood’s saxophonist Leland Whitty told Billboard that the band found out about the remix through social media.
“I woke up one morning. Alex (Sowinski, band member) had sent me the Instagram video and I was like, ‘This is crazy. Snoop Dogg’s probably one of the first rappers I ever listened to,’” he said.
“It’s cool (for Snoop) to just turn something we didn’t have any emotional connection to and (associate it) with something so relevant right now,” Whitty continued.
The video, which premiered on March 12, soon caught the attention of President Trump. On March 15, Trump tweeted from his personal account (@realDonaldTrump), saying, “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!”
Elizabeth Voss, a third-year student in Humber’s Public Relations program also saw the video, and had a different take on it than the President.
“Where do we draw the line with freedom of speech?” Voss asked. “Music has always been a way for artists to echo the struggles and fears that their audiences might be feeling.”
Voss also contends that suing Snoop could be seen as un-American.
“Pursing any legal action is censorship and defies core American beliefs like freedom of speech and artistic expression,” she says.
Although many people like Voss believe that the video is simply a satirical commentary, Senator Rubio told TMZ that it’s potentially dangerous, and could land Snoop in a lot of trouble.
“We’ve had presidents assassinated before in this country, so anything like that is something people should be really careful about,” the self-described West Coast rap fan said. “If the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea, you could have a real problem.”
The comments from Trump and Rubio were disputed by Alan Shanoff, a media lawyer who served as Sun Media’s in-house legal advisor for 30 years and long taught media law at Humber. After watching the scene, Shanoff said, “What is depicted is patently a parody and not intended to be taken as a threat of violence, so it is doubtful a charge would be laid and the chances of a conviction would be very low.”
Despite the slim chances of a conviction, Shanoff wouldn’t rule it out. “Having said that, in a country where prosecutors and judges are sometimes elected anything is possible,” he said.
Though BadBadNotGood was not involved creatively with the video or remix, Snoop told the Billboard, the instrumental inspired him to express feelings on the current state of the union.
“I had never had a song like that, so when I got back to the studio, I started skimming through beats, and that particular beat just seemed on the same page to get me going, so I wrote the whole song [to it].”
The legendary rapper praised the Toronto band in a press statement.
“I love what they (BadBadNotGood) do, shit feels so real,” Snoop said, “and when I heard the instrumental on their album I had to do it.”