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Ben Carson Thinks Hip-Hop Is Ruining Black Communities, But He'll Use It to Get Votes

Back in April, the GOP presidential candidate said that hip-hop culture was destroying traditional values. Now Carson's dropping his first rap song.

by Liz Fields
Nov 5 2015, 7:50pm

Photo by Jose Luis Magana/AP

Retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson once said that hip-hop created a culture that's destroying black communities, but that was months ago. This week, the Republican candidate is singing a different tune in an attempt to use rhymes to shake off sideswipes from his rival Donald Trump about him being "super low energy" and soft-spoken.

On Friday, Carson will drop an original rap song titled "Freedom," which the 64-year-old created with the help of the Christian rapper Aspiring Mogul. The candidate's campaign hopes the ad will inspire young black voters in eight urban markets — Miami; Atlanta; Houston; Detroit; Memphis; Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

"Reaching them on a level they appreciate and follow and see if we can attract their consciousness about the election," Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts told ABC News. "They need to get involved and express their voice through their vote."

Throughout the 60-second song, fragments of Carson's stump speeches are layered over a steady kick drum, floating flute refrain, and repeated vocal commandments to "vote!"

"America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, innovation, and that's what will get us on the right track now," Carson says in one clip.

"I'm very hopeful that I'm not the only one that's willing to pick up the baton to freedom. Because freedom is not free and we must fight for it every day. Every one of us must fight for it because we are fighting for our children and the next generation," he says in another.

According to his campaign, Carson wants to win the support of at least 20 percent of the black vote to stymie Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in a general election, assuming both win their respective nominations.

Clinton's appeal with black voters currently outstrips that of her competitors. An August Gallup poll measured her favorability ratings with African-Americans at 80 percent, while GOP candidates continued to suffer from image problems among the same demographic. The same survey put Carson's favorability at the top of the Republican pack with a rating of 22 percent.

Related: As Campaign Cash Flows to Ben Carson, Jeb Bush Cuts Staff Pay and Operations

Carson's new rap gambit comes seven months after the candidate said during an interview on R&B radio station WBLS that hip-hop culture destroys Christian and family values in black communities. The interview aired in April, a month before Carson officially announced his White House run.

"We need to re-establish faith in our communities and the values and principles that got us through slavery, that got us through Jim Crow, and segregation, and all kinds of horrible things that were heaped upon us," he said. "Why were we able to get through those? Because of our faith, because of our family, because of our values, and as we allow the hip-hop community to destroy those things for us, and as we grasp onto what's politically correct and not what is correct, we continue to deteriorate."

Later in the show, Carson backtracked on his comments after the show's host and a caller who had dialed in defended hip-hop and the positive influence that it has had in the community.

"When I talk about the hip-hop community, I'm talking about the aspect of modern society that pretty much dismisses anything that has to do with Jesus Christ, that's what I'm talking about," he said.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields