Why Did Donald Trump Pardoned Lil’ Wayne and Kodak Black?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that as the inevitable end to the Trump era finally comes to a close, he refuses to leave quietly. Instead, in stellar Trump fashion, before dropping his mic and storming off the stage that is the American presidency, he has to leave us all with a handful of actions that leave us thinking “WTF? Is this real life?!” That has pretty much been the running theme for the past 4 years but even more so after the recent insurrection attempt at the Capitol which garnered him his second impeachment. His most recent attempt at leaving a shit stain in the drawers of American democracy comes in the form of his choices in who will receive pardons as he leaves office.
In an official statement released by the White House, it lists roughly 143 people – 73 that received a pardon and 70 who received commuted criminal sentences – who Donald Trump deemed worthy of clemency. Most of the names come as no surprise, such as Steve Bannon and other political allies, but many are scratching their heads about a pardon that was granted to rapper Lil’ Wayne and a commuted sentence for rapper Kodak Black.
Presidential pardons are not out of the norm for a president, especially right before leaving the White House. And in comparison to former presidents, the number of pardons Trump issued is actually pretty low. What IS unprecedented is who Trump decided deserved a pardon from him – while presidential pardons are typically reserved for those that have been wrongfully convicted of a crime or special instances, most of Trump’s list are people that were pretty much undeniably guilty of the crimes they were accused of, many of them pleading so.
Keeping in mind the kind of person Trump is, while unprecedented it isn’t at all surprising. But pardons given to these two rappers in question seems like a plot twist I just can’t get past. So why would the same man that has arguably been pushing a white supremacy agenda during his time in office go out of his way to grant pardons to them? I have a few ideas.
Lil’ Wayne Has Loosely Supported Trump
Lil’ Wayne met with the president back in October of 2020 to discuss the Trump administration’s newly proposed ‘Platinum Plan‘ which proposed a handful of initiatives that were meant to help black voters and their communities. While I couldn’t find an instance in which he has come out and clearly endorsed Trump, Wayne has praised the (now former) president and some of his positions.
The above photo was tweeted shortly after their meeting and the internet went bat-shit crazy. Many people online seem to think that simply making moves in support of a politician’s initiatives that align with their way own values is a definite endorsement of said politician. While I can’t say for certain that Wayne did not intend that to be the case, as stated before, he has never outright said he was a supporter or formally endorsed Trump. But of course, angry Twitter users shunned Wayne and the internet ran wild with rumors like Wayne’s model girlfriend Denise Bidot dumped him for supporting the president (which she confirmed was not true), and Charlemagne the God and 50 Cent have both speculated that the Trump administration probably paid off Wayne for his support.
So… Why Them?
Now, I get it – Donald Trump has been such a polarizing and volatile figure that it’s hard to think that any minority or person with integrity would get behind him on anything. Everything he does seems to have some sort of ulterior motive to it (more on that later) although he claims it’s within the best interest of the American people. So Trump pardoning Wayne…. sort of makes sense because Trump sees him as a pawn in his political ambitions. Kodak Black, on the other hand, per my research has never supported the president, so his pardon feels like it came from nowhere even more than Wayne’s does.
Both of them were in trouble for weapon possession, and Kodak also faced a marijuana possession charge, and while these things don’t typically garner so much jail time, both rappers are felons with other unrelated pending convictions. The White House claims both rappers have been generous philanthropists throughout their careers which, I guess, makes them deserving of clemency.
Personally, I think this is all bullshit. Much like just about every move Trump has made the past 4 years, this is clearly some sort of publicity stunt with the clear intent of furthering his own self-interests. There are thousands of incarcerated people of color that either have been wrongfully convicted or are serving a ridiculously long sentence due to outdated laws or petty drug possession charges. But instead of doing substantial research into this and finding people worthy of pardons on a subtenant level, he has chosen to pardon celebrities and friends.
While many of the names on his list of pardons given is pretty appalling, these two I believe are a prime example of the privilege granted to those with money, influence, and, in this case, a willingness to submit to authority. Trump had an opportunity to do some good and he, of course, passed it up. And for those that have been tricked into thinking that this move comes from Trump having an interest in criminal reform or helping “the black community”, then you probably missed out on the 1776 Report released this past Monday on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Everything Trump does has some sort of ulterior motive and in this case, I honestly believe he is dumb enough to think that by granting pardons to rappers, any rapper at all, black people will get behind him. At this point, I’m not sure what he would plan to do with that support if his plan actually worked.
All we can do is hope that any future in pop culture or politics that Trump thinks he has will crash and burn just like the end of his presidency.