Not many young musicians would choose to use their first national television performance to call out the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. But that's exactly what Raury — a 19-year-old rapper from Atlanta — did during Tuesday's taping of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Minutes before he was set to perform in front of the live studio audience, Raury quietly changed into a bright green Mexico soccer jersey with the name Trump emblazoned on the back. The candidate's name was slashed out with a bright red X.
Raury said that as soon as he heard he was going to perform on the Late Show the same night that Donald Trump was the guest, he decided that he wanted to make a statement.
"Trump embodies separation, solving problems with anger, fear, and personal differences," Raury told VICE News backstage before the taping. "I'm all about the opposite, about being inclusive and open."
Raury added that he wanted to do something to call out Trump's recent disparaging comments about immigrants, especially since September is Hispanic heritage month. Trump's comments about building a massive wall along the US-Mexico border to keep immigrants out "just feed into this negativity," Raury said, adding, "I'm all about love."
Trump did not get a chance to respond to Raury's message. The candidate and his entourage left before Raury appeared on stage and were not immediately available to comment.
Raury's music blends alternative rock and hip-hop, and his lyrics are frequently infused with social justice messages. His song "Fly" was recorded in response to the news that Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last year in Ferguson, Missouri.
"I'll always have something to say, especially when it affects me, like police brutality or giving the police any more power," Raury said, noting that he is especially opposed to Trump's calls to further militarize the US-Mexico border.
Whatever the public reaction to Raury's statement when the broadcast is aired Tuesday night, the audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater was unambiguous in its support. The crowd exploded in cheers when Raury turned around to show off Trump's crossed-out name.
After his performance, Raury handed Colbert — who also was unaware of the jersey stunt — an identical Mexico jersey of his own. The host turned it over apprehensively, and then grinned when he saw "Colbert" written on the back without an X.
Backstage, Raury's entourage yelled and hugged. Toasting his team, the rapper said proudly, "Tonight is for Mexico."
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