Politician Mariah Parker a.k.a. Linqua Franqa is also a rapper—and she hopes other artists follow her lead.
“I declared my run for office at my album release show just three months before the election last year. So when I won by 13 votes, it came as a deep shock to a lot of people,” she said. “But I was able to do all this, to run for office and win, not in spite of being a rapper, but because I am.”
Parker says that rappers are actually the perfect people to run for office for four reasons. First, she says they “live for the squad.”
“Rappers are seen as these ego giants, but the stories we often tell and the way we operate in the world actually reflect as deep sense of squad loyalty to our kin and our communities,” she explained.
They are also master storytellers. Since rhetoric is part of their art, speeches to excite crowds and get their point across are easy to create.
Their rap battle experience also qualifies them to go toe-to-toe with other politicians.
“I’ve seen in my first eight months in office the way politics will twist and turn you and try to make you lose your way,” she said. “Thankfully, the cypher teaches a rapper how to deal with this, through flexibility of strategy, determination, grace.”
Parker also says rappers’ experiences are basically policy expertise. Anyone can read about economic theory and policies, but she says that many rappers have actually experienced the consequences of poor economic policies, which makes then extremely qualified to talk about it.
“Intimate, lived experience is the failures of capitalism, of our criminal justice system, of our education system — we know this sh*t in a way that can’t be taught.”