Eminem hit Republican presidential candidate and abominable twerp Vivek Ramaswamy with a cease and desist letter, the Daily Mail reported on Monday, a couple of weeks after Ramaswamy burst out into song and rapped Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” at the Iowa State Fair. “[Eminem’s label] BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto,” the letter from the rapper’s lawyers states.
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Ramaswamy’s performance of “Lose Yourself” earlier this month was prompted by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who asked Ramaswamy to name his favorite “walkout” song. To answer, he gave his now-viral performance of Enimen’s 2002 hit, in what can only be described as the world’s most awkward attempt to convince young voters to forfeit our human rights to a rebellious, free-spirited young man like himself.
Ramaswamy probably could have gotten away with this—belting out a classic song at a political rally—if it weren’t for his very public annoying-ness in recent weeks. The man wants to raise the voting age to 25, has centered his campaign around “10 commandments,” including the eye-rolling tenet that “there are two genders,” and even earned boos from a Republican crowd for declaring that climate change is a hoax. Polling alarmingly shows he’s already shot to third place in the Republican presidential field. And between pushing 2000s-esque conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Jan. 6, cable appearances where he mansplains to female reporters, and being so grating at last week’s debate that Chris Christie compared him to a human ChatGPT, he’s now on a lot of people’s radars—including, apparently, Eminem’s.
Ramaswamy’s semi-meteoric rise and insufferable mix of nastiness and stupidity have increasingly been compared to former President Donald Trump’s insufferable mix of nastiness and stupidity. Now the two have another little badge of dishonor in common: Artists are legally ordering them to stop playing or referencing their music.
In 2016, Everlast famously told Trump to stop playing “Jump Around” at his rallies, or, as Jezebel put it at the time, to not “Jump Around” unless it’s into a ditch. The family of the late Tom Petty also sent Trump’s 2020 campaign a cease and desist to stop playing “I Won’t Back Down.” The lengthy list of artists who have condemned Trump for using their music or sent legal notices telling him to stop includes Rihanna, Neil Young, Adele, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pharrell Williams, and Prince’s estate. More recently, Trump’s most loyal surrogate Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was hit with a legal letter from Dr. Dre in January after posting a video of herself walking to his music on social media. And once upon a time, Bruce Springsteen hit Ronald Regan to stop using his music, while Sting told George W. Bush to fuck off.
So, that’s an incomplete list of politicians who have been burned by artists, a rite of passage Ramaswamy is now finally experiencing for himself.
Of course, Ramaswamy’s situation is slightly unique in that, instead of merely playing Eminem’s song, Ramaswamy belted out the song himself. The stunt seemingly built upon Ramaswamy’s undergrad days, when—as if he couldn’t possibly be more annoying—he developed the libertarian rap persona “Da Vek,” according to Politico. (In 2006, he went so far as to tell his college newspaper that “Lose Yourself” is his life’s theme song.) Ramaswamy is, quite notably, not a rapper today but a far-right presidential candidate, and I am once again stuck on the historical trend of most fascists just being pathetic, failed artists.