Being an emcee is not only about making great music. It’s also about being the voice for the people. Since the beginning Hip Hop artists have been the narrators for our times. Speaking truth for the voiceless that want to be heard. Chuckie Campbell embodies this tradition with his new song “Covfefe”. He was gracious enough to take some time to break down his new song for us. Below is the interview
Who is Chuckie Campbell the artist?
I’m a writer, editor, promoter, and educator currently residing in Buffalo, NY. Normally, for shows, I perform with a live band with a full horn section, named the Black Den. We have performed in 46 states and 2 different countries in the past two years and played some of the biggest stages in the United States, including A3C, SXSW, NXNW, ECMC, and others. Among other things, the band and I also have some cool accolades: A3C’s This is Your Year Contest; All WNY’s Best Hip Hop Artist and Best Hip Hop Performer; ArtVoice awards for Best Hip Hop Artist and Best Original Music; and Canalside Buffalo’s Battle of the Bands. Every year, I also give out the Taking Back Tomorrow scholarship, awarded to one high school senior who overcomes an obstacle in pursuit of their higher education.
What inspired the lyrical approach to your “Covfefe”?
“Covfefe” was an alleged misspelling of the word “coverage” in a viral tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump that later became an Internet meme. Trump tweeted, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” six minutes after midnight (EDT) on May 31, 2017. The satirization of Trump’s tweet is a natural reaction, but more so, I think it emerges out of a greater system of troubling and problematic social concerns for the direction of the United States and its people.
The song attempts to encapsulate the sheer absurdity of a world upside down, where the boss of the apprentice becomes president of the United States and navigates the dire terrain of a pandemic, while a nation watches in awe and spectacle as the largest civil rights movement in its history grows legs and comes to fruition. The chorus playfully pivots off the tweet, where Trump, in a maniac rant misspells the word “coverage” when trying to heckle the free press and rile up his political followers.
In your opinion what is the bar you wrote that you knew would get people’s attention and break it down?
I felt the subject matter needed to “feel” unsettling and give people space to relate. I wanted to do this immediately, so I start with “All my heroes are dead,
crying Jordans,/ Essential workers sporting face masks, avoiding Covid,/ Quarantined, injecting disinfectant, executive order/Feeling cute, might flush this toilet paper down the toilet.” Personally, I wanted the “all my heroes are dead,” line to reflect the the lack of political leadership or even revolutionary action being taken despite the problems people are currently dealing with;
I wanted to couple that with the “crying Jordans” line to reflect the obsession with the ESPN documentary, The Last Dance, where celebrity and modern idol worship was supplanting and standing in for the examination of our real problems people should be paying attention to. Then, of course, Trump makes the comment about injecting disinfectant, which was a rapper’s multi-syllabic dream, which I felt because of the assonance and consonance, could be paired with executive order.
The toilet paper line is meant to signify popular meme culture and the over-reaction of binge-buying toilet paper until there was a sheer lack of it in almost any grocery store. Both are indicative of mishandlings of the seriousness of the moment by leaders, but also normal people, as they allow fear and trepidation to control and intimidate them into bad decisions and questionable choices.
What do you think is the bar that people may sleep on listening to “Covfefe” and why?
For me, it’s “While the boss of the Apprentice forms pandemic response,/Craig gets fired on a Friday stealing boxes on his day off/Makes more on unemployment than the moment he was laid off/ exposing just how phony it can be to work a day job.” I especially think the boss of the apprentice line reiterates the problem with electing a megalomaniac and power-hungry personality, let alone an actor, to the run the country. This followed by a reference to one of my favorite movies, Friday, where the main character, Craig, is fired on a Friday for stealing boxes. Ironically, in the movie, it is Craig’s lack of a job in conjunction with the time he spends with Smokey and the other characters which leads him to discover something about himself and come to stand up for what is right as well as learn the value of love and non-violence. Craig learns by fist-fighting and not shooting Deebo, he will live to see another day, win or lose, as his father instructs.
Craig learns through the stark differences between Joi and Debbie, what love means and what kind of woman he wants to invest his time in, to respect and protect. Among the many eureka moments for Craig, others may also be having these epiphanies and realizations. Many who are currently laid off in the pandemic, often get laid off for questionable or false reasons (stealing boxes?), but now, with all the time they have on their hands, are left to their own thoughts.
For the first time, they are collecting unemployment and have a moment to actually reflect and react to the events of the world, but still collect a check, revealing that maybe their day job wasn’t that great in the first place and there are other things in life that are equally important, including equality, human rights, etc.. In all actuality, maybe that day job was acting as a tool of distraction that was hindering their premature but potential enlightenment. With no time to sit and contemplate the nature of the affairs of the world, often people are left to labor for a market that reproduces false motives and false needs. In this crucial moment, perhaps it is the degradation of “the normal” that may wake them from their slumber.
What would you rate your pen on “Covfefe” 1-10? 10 being the highest?
This is actually one of my shortest songs; in comparison to what else is available from others, I would rank it higher, but as an artist, I think it’s important to compete more with your own work so that you are always working to a higher standard than before. In the context of my other work, Covfefe is a 7 on a scale 10 of what I do with the pen. I take great pride in being a lyricist and a songwriter.
What can people expect next from Chuckie Campbell?
Be on the lookout for my new EP, Curious Incidents in Cancel Culture. Produced entirely by Willie Breeding, the 6-song project’s soundscape is lo-fi and gritty. It gives us Kobe Bryant’s death by helicopter, a global pandemic that cancels march madness, and a post-apocalyptic landscape where the boss of “The Apprentice” is elected president.
From Harvey Weinstein to Tomi Lahren, Rick Wershe to Kyrie Irving, from fake news to flat earthers, opioid addiction to school shootings, baby boomers to millennials, pussy hats to tiki torches — it’s all there — and presents itself as a collection of existential absurdities with a flare of black humor and ‘esprit d’escalier, the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late. You can preorder the EP exclusively through bandcamp and it releases on all social and streaming platforms on July 15th.
Check out Chuckie Campbell “Covfefe” below and follow him on social media. Stay Global my Friends!