Music reflects culture, so of course politics makes its way into songs.
So, in honor of President’s Day (Feb. 19), LyricFind calculated every song that mentions a U.S. president — favorably or unfavorably — and counted down the results. From ’92 Kenny G deep cuts to YG’s “FDT,” here’s our list of the most name-dropped presidents in music history.
6. Jimmy Carter, 17 mentions
Jimmy Carter opens the list with a modest 17 mentions, but Carter’s name-drops span genre and time, ranging from System of a Down (“I-E-A-I-A-I-O”) and Kenny G (“Auld Lang Syne”) to Mac Dre and Master P. In fact, the latter example encapsulates most of Carter’s mentions, with the line “Others that was rockin’ is forgotten like Jimmy Carter,” appearing on the final verse of “Watcha Like.” A Carter name-drop is usually just a fly-by, but he still came it at No. 6 in overall mentions.
5. Donald Trump, 33 mentions
Coming up next is current President Donald Trump. In an interesting twist, nearly half of the total Trump mentions were prior to his election in 2016, making 18 of the name-drops about his entrepreneurial persona, and not his new title. Wonder how Mac Miller feels about his 2011 breakout hit forever having “Donald Trump” as its title…
Notable Songs: “FDT” by YG
This 2016 single came prior to Trump’s election, and after his official republican nominee. Since its drop in late March nearly two years ago, it has become a rallying cry for anyone who is not a fan of the current president, as well as a staple of the Compton rapper YG’s live show. Last March, he forfeited a $60,000 paycheck by breaking a signed contract that promised he wouldn’t play the song during a performance at San Diego State University.
“Off the Corner” Meek Mill and Rick Ross
Meek Mill and Rick Ross’ 2014 reference is an example of a non-presidential Trump allusion. On the chorus Meek raps, “Going Donald Trump numbers on the corner,” a reference to making a lot of money selling drugs on the streets of North Philly, which is a line hard-on-crime President Trump would probably not approve of in 2017.
4. Ronald Reagan, 59 mentions
Though Ronald Reagan occupied the White House during the ’80s, his musical mentions span from 1965 (Tom Lehrer’s “George Murphy”) to 2017, with mentions from the likes of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar (“Chapter Six,” “Ronald Reagan Era” and “Ab-Soul’s Outro”) to Frank Zappa (“Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk”) and Sufjan Stevens (“The Henney Buggy Band”). There’s no developed algorithm for favorable versus unfavorable mentions for this list, but Reagan’s popularity within the music community was certainly not hitting high approval ratings.
Notable Song: “Crack Music” by Kanye West and the Game
Kanye serves “old Kanye” in this one, giving an explicit political analysis in the 2005 Late Registration cut. In his opening verse, he raps “How we stop the Black Panthers? Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer.” The line presumably addresses the idea that Reagan introduced crack to black communities intentionally, destroying the neighborhoods and foundations of the Black Panther society. (Kanye’s father was reportedly a member of the organization.)
3. Bill Clinton, 105 mentions
Bill Clinton’s musical history runs in a few directions. The former president was a musician himself — famously playing saxophone on his appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show — but what has been more lasting is his name appearing in other artists’ songs, and even more so, mentions of his mistress Monica Lewinsky on other artists’ songs.
Notable Song: “The Beast” by The Fugees
Unlike any of the aforementioned presidents, a majority of Clinton’s mentions have to do with his place in pop culture more so than politics, with opinions not swaying definitively in either a positive or negative direction. As for the Fugees, Wyclef Jean had some fairly high remarks to say about the president: “The man behind the mask you thought was Batman is Bill Clinton.” The line is a reference to the work in inner-cities that Clinton had completed throughout his term.
2. George W. Bush, 116 mentions
Much like Reagan, Bush was not known for being a well-liked figure in the music scene. Most of Bush’s mentions are from within the rap community, with Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, and 50 Cent clocking in more than one appearance on this section of the list.
Notable Song: “In a World Gone Mad,” Beastie Boys
“In a World Gone Mad,” is a quintessential politically fueled cut from the anarchical Beastie Boys. In a pretty straightforward slam, the lyric goes, “Well I’m not pro Bush and I’m not pro Saddam, We need these fools to remain calm, George Bush you’re looking like Zoolander trying to play tough for the camera.” Again, music was not Bush’s biggest fan.
1. Barack Obama, 309 mentions
With way more than double what second-place Bush tallied, and nearly 10 times as many as successor Trump, Obama clocks in at No.1 with a staggering 309 mentions. The former president, and his first lady, have consistently shown their own love and appreciation for music, and it seems as though musicians have given it right back. From Frank Ocean‘s playful flex on “Raf” (“Plate of ravioli at Obama’s”) to the more serious joy that comes with defying the classic Tupac line on Nas‘ “Black President” (“This country is too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose/ They said ‘Although it seems heaven-sent, we ain’t ready, to have a black president”)m Obama is music’s favorite president. More so than anyone else on the list, Obama’s mentions are decidedly positive — a nod to the first black president and a nod to the empowering implications of the first black president.
Notable Song: “My President Black,” Young Jeezy and Nas
“My President Black” encapsulates each and every feeling of every Obama name-drop. It’s serious, it’s a boast, and it’s a celebration, with the standout lyric of, “My president’s black, my lambo’s blue, and I be goddamn if my rims ain’t too.” “My President’s Black” was the mark of a new era.