Musicians ‘Feel the Bern’ leading up to the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries


Credit: Bernie Sanders via Twitter

Rapper Cardi B interviews Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders in the TEN Nail Bar in Detroit, Michigan. They bonded over their shared love for former U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and discussed issues plaguing our country today.

Elliot Russell, Editor-in-Chief

The buildup to the 2020 United States presidential election is well underway. The Democratic Party is bursting at the seams with nominees hoping to take on President Donald Trump in the primary election.

An overwhelming number of prominent figures in the music industry have been outspoken on their choice for the next Democratic candidate, especially for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Artists spanning genres and generations have appeared with him publicly to show their support.

Michael Render of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels has been a longtime supporter of Sanders dating back to his 2016 campaign. Render, more commonly known by his stage name Killer Mike, has appeared in interviews with Sanders on countless occasions.

“I just want to let you know, we got your back. Please keep pushing forward for us and we’re gonna keep knocking on doors for you,” Render said to Sanders in a recent interview, renewing his vows to the cause of the veteran Vermont senator.

Rapper Cardi B, who won the Grammy for best rap album in 2018 with “Invasion of Privacy,” broke headlines in July of this year by hopping on the Bernie bandwagon for his 2020 run. Similar to Killer Mike, she held an interview with him at a nail salon in Detroit, Michigan, expressing her concern about issues that matter to her like police brutality and the education system.

On Oct. 27, former White Stripes frontman Jack White started off the chain of concerts with a fiery performance in Detroit. His seven-song set preluding speeches by local representative Rashida Tlaib, and Sanders himself shook the crowd and sparked a buzz around the presidential nominee once more.

“I want to listen to somebody and understand if they’re telling me the truth,” White said in between songs. “Bernie Sanders is telling the truth and I really do trust him.”

A standout addition to this diverse lineup is pop star Ariana Grande. On November 20, she took to social media with photos of her rendezvous with Sanders after her show in Atlanta, Georgia.

As 2020 has gotten underway, the abundance of concerts at Sanders rallies has cast a shadow on those in 2019. Performances by Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend at the start of February to generate hype around the Iowa caucuses set the tone for the rest of the campaign. Like Killer Mike, both performers are longtime supporters of his dating back to 2016.

Subsequently, the Strokes announced a show to support Sanders’ New Hampshire run and directed even more eyes toward him by announcing their new album “The New Abnormal” coming out this year, ending their seven-year hiatus from recording. Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas also endorsed Sanders in a promotional video released by his campaign.

The performances have continued into March, starting with a performance from an off-shoot of the political hip-hop veterans Public Enemy called Public Enemy Radio in Los Angeles. The next day Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats supported Sanders’ Minnesota campaign with a show in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The involvement of music in the election blurs the lines between politics and pop culture and overall brightens up the blandness that politics can become. These contemporary artists are living proof that the revolutionary energy of the beatnik generation is alive and well.