Busta Rhymes calls Trump "Agent Orange" and slams Muslim ban during Grammys performance
"President Agent Orange" were the words Busta Rhymes used to describe Donald Trump while taking the stage at the 2017 Grammys to deliver the protest anthem "We the People" alongside foundational hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest.
"I'm not feeling the political climate right now," Rhymes shouted. "I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all the evil you've been perpetuating through the United States. I want to thank president Agent Orange for his unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. We the people!"
It was a heart-stopping, fist-raising moment that only swelled to greater heights from there. Immediately afterwards, a group of hijab-wearing dancers burst through a foam wall to file onstage. They proceeded to circle the group of rappers as they spit the lyrics to the defiant single.
"All you Black folks, you must go," Q-Tip sang on the song's chorus, which takes specific shots at Trump's agenda. "All you Mexicans, you must go/ And all you poor folks, you must go/ Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/ So all you bad folks, you must go."
Members of several of these groups appeared to join the performers onstage. Native American and women of color stood in formation alongside the rappers as they raised fists in unison, ending with repeated calls to "Resist! Resist! Resist!"
The performance also included bits of Tribe's "Award Tour," honoring the group's recently deceased member Phife Dawg, and "Movin' Backwards" off We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, with support from best new artist nominee Anderson .Paak on drums.
The charged set was far from the only political moment in the night's ceremony. Host James Corden trolled Donald Trump, putting a parody tweet at the bottom of the screen and dismissing any negative comments as fake. Katy Perry also wore a resist armband and a white pant suit, in a subtle nod to Hillary Clinton and the suffragette movement.
But none had the defiant energy of A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes' set. However, it makes sense that honor would fall on their shoulders. Since its very beginning, hip-hop has been a political art form, a voice for the voiceless. A Tribe Called Quest has been a major voice helping ensure it stays that way. Flexing these muscles now in these divided times feels an appropriate reminder. It only adds to the group's and the genre's stunning legacy.
Watch the full performance below via the Fader.