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Rapper Waka Flocka Flame Is Running for President. What Are His Views on Foreign Policy?

Atlanta rapper Juaquin James Malphurs, best known as Waka Flocka Flame, has announced that he’s running for president. At 28, he’s seven years short of the minimum age requirement, but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing two campaign videos in collaboration with Rolling Stone, the first set to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Drake, J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame and Meek Mill Perform At The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
IRVINE, CA - MAY 08: Rapper Waka Flocka Flame performs at The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on May 8, 2012 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Atlanta rapper Juaquin James Malphurs, best known as Waka Flocka Flame, has announced that he’s running for president. At 28, he’s seven years short of the minimum age requirement, but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing two campaign videos in collaboration with Rolling Stone, the first set to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Like other candidates who have almost no hope of winning, Flocka is running to publicize himself and his platform. “Waka Flocka is a product, a franchise, a brand, a label…. And a good guy!” he told Interview magazine.

He’s an independent, but he sees the Democrats as his rivals. “Hillary is my only competition right now,” he said. “It’s a tough one. I hope I make it.” (New Yorker writer George Packer, who has declared himself already bored stiff with the 2016 election, should get to know Flocka.)

The campaign may be a joke, but it’s no fleeting whim: Flocka has been tweeting about this since 2012. Other than his goes-without-saying plan to legalize marijuana on day one in the White House, he’s already proposed a slew of policy initiatives, including a federal ban on dogs in restaurants. Flocka wants extreme power for the executive branch. “I am Congress; I’m president,” he said in the first campaign video. On intervention abroad: “I don’t give a damn if we’re going to war.” Flocka wants to #FreePalestine, #FreeKurdistan, and thinks Canada is mad real.

Since he announced his presidential bid on April 20, Flocka and his crew have turned down persistent requests for the rapper to elaborate on his foreign-policy views.

So we are left to read the tealeaves to determine the bulk of Flocka’s outlook. He has, for example, taken a strong stand in support of social enterprise projects in the developing world. “After learning about our solar lights and chargers and our mission to improve lives, Waka Flocka asked if he could help support our Kickstarter campaign,” Maurits Groen, founder and CEO of WakaWaka (“shine bright” in Swahili), an NGO working on solar power solutions for off-grid communities, told Foreign Policy. “Waka Flocka introduced WakaWaka and our mission to millions of his followers, many of which are the next generation of change agents, or as we like to call them #agentsoflight.”

Flocka’s lyrics tell the story of an ambitious pragmatist who favors “reckless fatalism, intensity, and physicality” over “nuance or complexities, gray-scale morality, or introspection,” according to critic David Drake’s laudatory review of the rapper’s 2010 studio album debut.

The Flocka phenomenon has always skirted the line between humorous re-appropriation of stereotypes and un-ironic reinforcement of them. His unrepentant embrace of the music at the margins of American society, the gangster rap of the drug wars, has been criticized for reinforcing stereotypes of black life in America. “Haters everywhere, but I don’t really care,” Flocka would likely respond.

When in 2010 Flocka first burst out of Atlanta, satirists uploaded a parody video under the name Baracka Flacka Flames in which an Obama impersonator raps over Flocka’s best known track, “Hard in Da Paint.” The n-word is in frequent rotation, a copious amount of marijuana is inhaled, the president pets a pit bull. Flocka posted it on Twitter to “let other people see how ignorant other people can be.” The video has been viewed more than 12 million times.

This time around, the joke is in Flocka’s hands.

 Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Benjamin Soloway is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. @bsoloway

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