Despite being in a bar in his native Chicago for the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, rapper-singer Sir The Baptist stayed sober. “I wasn’t [playing a drinking game], but I should have,” he jokes over the phone while in Los Angeles.
Last month, the preacher’s son put on a skit featuring Nightly Show‘s Donald Trump impersonator Bob DiBuono during his high-octane set at Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn. As the faux-business tycoon tried to make his pitch for black votes, Baptist shuts him down.
The gospel-meets-jazz-meets-hip-hop artist is no newbie when it comes to standing up for what he believes in (see tracks like “Raise Hell” and “Wake Up”), which is why he’s staying woke for the 2016 election. Below, the Chicago native evaluates Clinton and Trump’s performances during the debate and discusses why he thinks Trump is not the answer.
What was your initial reaction to the debate?
I think I can go with the whole world in saying that [Trump] wasn’t prepared. We’re dreading, disgusted, panicking and having anxiety, watching that and knowing that someone out there is going to vote for someone that’s totally not prepared to run the country. I didn’t expect to wake up and see people saying that he won. You have to be blinded to see something [like the debate] and still say that he won.
You incorporated a Donald skit into your recent Afropunk Festival performance, but what have been your overall feelings about Trump’s campaign? When did you start paying attention?
I started paying attention when [his campaign] affected communities nationwide. It felt like we were trying to heal some of the scars of classism and racism then suddenly, it started to take a turn. I have family members that aren’t African-American that were like, “Hey, if black people would just do what the police say…” and it started so much tension merely because someone [like Trump] was sort of putting the propaganda back in our heads, saying all the things he said, stirring up the culture, empowering the wrong people to speak their mind and pushing the nation to where we’re at now.
Both candidates touched on a variety of topics. Was there any statement from either side that particularly blew your mind?
A lot, because, one, you can’t bring up contributions to African-Americans and bring up Ronald Reagan. Two, you can’t say that bringing up the birth certificate for the president was a good job and that it got you where you are. It was amazing that [Trump] admitted to a lot of the propaganda he’s putting out here.
What were your thoughts on his remarks about being smart and not releasing his tax returns?
Again, propaganda. He may have never given to charities. He may never show his taxes. These things are things that would disqualify him to some other conservative people that he’s kind of holding on to. To say that you’re not gonna release [the tax returns] because your tax attorney says you shouldn’t was silly.
What did you think of Clinton’s performance? Was there any initiative in particular that made you want to vote for her?
I’m gonna vote for her because I’m gonna exercise my vote. I do see a lot of the things that she’s saying and I know she’s trying to say. In this election, you have to look at intent because when these people get into office, they still have to fight with a lot of people to get things going. You have to look at intent, the personality, the person and the experience, and she’s put some time in.
For Trump, this would be his first time trying to organize a community and understand what organizing a community is like the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. He’s got growing to do as far as being effective. These things aren’t stepping stones for community development. My dad has done a lot in municipality development so to know some of the background, I just look at this guy and I know he’s not ready. I feel like she’s more ready and she has experience, which is one of the things that she said.
Going into the debate, there was some criticism about Clinton’s email controversy and people predicted Trump would paint her as a liar. How do you think she handled it?
I think she did very well. If she’s had a personal email, which she says she did, and she had some confidential stuff in that email, I don’t want her to release that to the public. There are certain things for our country that aren’t supposed to be released to the public so to release that stuff could put us in jeopardy, but on the other end, she made that mistake [of deleting those emails]. I think that was a learning curve more than an intention.
Did you feel any sense of disbelief during the debate?
I think the thinkers are just sitting here wondering when Trump is gonna come out and say this is a joke. “I can’t believe you guys let me do this.” I think we’re all still shocked.
Was there a topic you wish they would have addressed?
It seems to me that economics lie. Obviously, talking about taxes is economics but they could get deeper into some of the economics problems that we have, specifically my community. I don’t know if it would have done us any good but every time there was a topic brought up, Trump was so completely off-topic and I wanted to know his thoughts on specifically having a company and business in Chicago, where I’m from and people are dying and can’t get jobs.
How did you feel about both parties weighing in on the “stop and frisk” policies?
On both ends, they could have gone a little deeper because there’s more behind it but that’s not something I think politics wouldn’t address on TV ’cause some of it gets iffy. It goes into things that’s not necessarily comfortable for people watching TV for a match between Trump and Hillary. It’s something that’s a little deeper that I think they’d have to dig through.
Do you feel more optimistic about the country’s future after watching the debate?
I won’t feel optimistic until the votes come in. You feel like, okay, we got this. There’s no way this guy can [do this] and you wake up the next morning and all the reporters are flooding the Internet with their own propaganda. I won’t feel comfortable until we know exactly who’s president — and hopefully, it’s not Trump.