Rapped for Eminem’s rap, why Vivek Ramaswamy is in company of Obama and Regan – India Today

The rapper in Vivek Ramaswamy took hold of him on that warm Saturday morning in Iowa. As he was greeting his fans, the Republican candidate grabbed a microphone and belted out Eminem’s iconic ‘Lose Yourself’.

“He keeps forgetting what he wrote down the whole crowd goes so loud.
He opens his mouth,
But the words won’t come outâ€æ”

Vivek Ramswamy’s blink-and-miss performance at the Iowa State Fair on August 12 didn’t go unnoticed, though. On Tuesday, the company that manages Eminem’s music sent a notice to Ramaswamy, asking him not to use his songs for the 2024 US presidential campaign.

Vivek Ramaswamy was “a libertarian-minded rap artist” with the stage name Da Vek when he was studying at Harvard College. Known for his “anti-wokism” and anti-establishment views, Ramaswamy has climbed up the opinion polls in the Republican primary race to be the presidential candidate.

But this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that songs by influential musicians have been used by politicians in campaigns and hit controversial notes.


The history of such controversies includes Presidents Ronald Reagan, George HW and W Bush, Donald Trump and Barack Obama. John McCain and Al Gore, too, were issued cease-and-desist notices by musicians.

And it didn’t just impact the politicians, it changed the musicians too at times.

The most iconic among them is The Boss – Bruce Springsteen.

During the 1984 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan expressed his admiration for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’, intending to use it as his campaign song. However, Springsteen, who was previously politically uninvolved, denied permission as he felt discontented with Reagan and his policies. The song was dropped from the campaign. This incident marked a turning point in Springsteen’s political journey.

Springsteen was known for his anthems that often encapsulate the struggles of the working class. However, the incident with Reagan brought his politics to the forefront. It highlighted his support for Democratic politicians and causes, and his advocacy for issues such as workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial justice.

The denial to Reagan not only solidified Springsteen’s political stance but also set a precedent for musicians to retain control over the political usage of their work. This was evident when Springsteen objected to Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan using ‘Born in the USA’ in their respective 1996 and 2000 campaigns.

Over the years, Springsteen has continued to use his music and influence to express his political views, including supporting Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Springsteen also lent his voice and one of his songs to a campaign ad for now US President Joe Biden during his 2020 campaign against Republican candidate Donald Trump.


But Barack Obama, too, saw a cease-and-desist notice for using a song for election campaigning, something rare for a Democrat candidate.

Barack Obama’s team was asked by Sam Moore – the tenor voice in Sam and Dave – to not use the band’s ‘Hold On, I’m Comin’ song at his 2008 presidential campaign rallies. The Obama campaign respected Moore’s wishes and dropped the song. Moore later performed at the inaugural ball for the newly-elected Barack Obama and in 2013 at the White House.

Millionaire entrepreneur and Republican Donald Trump seems to be the presidential candidate who faced the most music from one and all – be it classic American rockstars, British artists or estates of late legends.

Bruce Springsteen objected to Trump using his ‘Born in the USA’ in 2016 as a patriotic anthem. In 2020, Phil Collins demanded that Trump’s team stop playing his ‘In the Air Tonight’.

Neil Young and Eddy Grant didn’t just stop at warning Trump from using their music at campaigns, they sued him.

Several British musicians have expressed their disapproval of their songs being used at Trump’s political rallies. The Rolling Stones threatened legal action, George Harrison’s estate condemned the use of his Beatles’ hit ‘Here Comes the Sun’, and Adele voiced her objections when she discovered that her tracks were being played at Trump’s rallies.

The opposition from the musicians came mostly because Trump’s politics and policy didn’t align with theirs.

But that’s not the case with Vivek Ramaswamy and Eminem.


An American-Indian born to parents who migrated to the US from Kerala, Vivek Ramaswamy, embodies all the personal struggles and underdog spirit that Eminem sings about.

“I saw myself, honestly, making it big through American capitalism, and that’s why the Eminem story spoke to me,” Ramaswamy had told Politico.

Ramaswamy made his fortune in biotech and asset management businesses. His net worth, according to Forbes, is at least $630 million.

“So, first let me just address a question that’s on everybody’s mind at home tonight: Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?” said Ramaswamy at the very outset of the debate, brandishing his “outsider” to US politics claim.

The whole controversy started after the music company BMI sent a notice to Ramaswamy on August 23, asking him to stop performing the tracks of Eminem AKA Slim Shady.

Vivek Ramaswamy said he would not use Eminem’s songs but he also didn’t let go of an opportunity to cash in on some more media attention.

“I would just say: Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” Vivek Ramaswamy posted on X (formerly Twitter).

“Eminem, in his rise, used to be a guy who actually stood up to the establishment and said the things that the establishment didn’t want him to say,” Vivek Ramaswamy said in an interview to MSNBC.

Ramaswamy has pitched himself as “the anti-establishment guy”, saying the US government lied to its people about the 9/11 attacks and that he would reduce the federal government workforce by 75 per cent.

Meaning to have the last word in this controversy, Vivek Ramswamy added, “I think people change over the course of their lives, but I have hope for him that he will one day rediscover the renegade that made him great and I’m rooting for that success in his life.”

Published On:

Aug 30, 2023

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