In over 18,000 videos on TikTok, teens are lip syncing to one very particular lyric: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist, full stop. If you vote for him again, you’re a white supremacist, full stop.”
It’s a line from the song “Chapter 319” by clipping., an experimental hip hop group made up of rapper Daveed Diggs and producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson. The group released the track on Bandcamp last week in celebration of Juneteenth. The B-side of the release is a song called “Knees on the Ground” that clipping. wrote in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in 2014.
Diggs, Snipes, and Hutson wrote “Chapter 319” after spending weeks protesting with Black Lives Matter.
“About a year and a half ago, we met an artist who’d grown up on the Standing Rock reservation. He told us that the media only showed the most horrific parts of the NoDAPL protests—the police’s use of tear gas and sonic weaponry, the mass arrests and harsh treatment of protestors,” they shared in a Twitter thread. “He told us that in between those atrocities, there were many moments of joy. He was there with his whole family—sometimes it was like a huge party. He had brought a PA system to the protest to play music.”
“One of the albums he played was CLPPNG. He said people started requesting ‘Tonight’ because it was fun to dance to and made people laugh. This story got us thinking about music’s usefulness in political and social movements, as a physical, affective expression of collectivity.” So, clipping. continues, “We made ‘Chapter 319’ as a tribute to S.U.C. member Big Floyd, but also with this specific usefulness in mind. However, if it doesn’t find its way to a protest, at lest [sic] it can be financially useful.” On Juneteenth, proceeds from the track (it’s pay-as-you-want on Bandcamp) were donated to the GoFundMe for George Floyd’s daughter (the Official Gianna Floyd Fund), People’s Breakfast Oakland, The Okra Project, and Afrorack. After June 19, sales of these two tracks will be periodically collected and donated to organizations dedicated to racial justice.
As they mention, George Floyd, murdered in Minneapolis, was a member of the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.) in Houston, where he was known as Big Floyd.
“Big Floyd was just a big, affable character. I think you can hear it in its freestyles: He just loved to have fun. He loved to joke around. And he was also pretty serious on the mic as well. He was someone that wasn’t afraid to talk about what was going on in his life,” music writer Kiana Fitzgerald shared with NPR.
The song “Chapter 319” samples Big Floyd himself, who raps the introduction, before Diggs takes over for the eight-minute song. Here’s Diggs on the chorus:
Left, right, left
How long can we holler when it ain’t no breath?
You keep killing fathers without no regrets
Then keep on countin’ dollars til’ it ain’t none left
So the streets gon’ keep on marching like
Left, right, left
Fuck yo empty promises these ain’t no threats
Streets is taking all of it you made yo bet
Fix it always problems we ain’t goin’ nowhere
Bring it straight up to your door, now who run it hoe?
It is absolutely worth listening to:
Every lyric is, simply, a masterpiece. “This march is not a one-off / This march is not the misaimed warning shot / This march a foot in yo fucking throat to choke out the whole assumption that you are here to protect us.”
However, TikTok teens have picked up on one specific couplet, from the pre-chorus: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist, full stop / If you vote for him again you’re a white supremacist, full stop.”
@chiomaazike##POV Went to my friend’s house for dinner, turns out we have the same political beliefs. ##duet with @xobrooklynne ##fyp♬ CLIPPING. CHAPTER 319 – gatorsneverlose
@char.byrdjust putting it out there ☺️♬ CLIPPING. CHAPTER 319 – gatorsneverlose
@jappomutt##pov we finally get invited to our white side’s thanksgiving dinner😌✨♬ CLIPPING. CHAPTER 319 – gatorsneverlose
@callmegrassIf you’re offended, then yes this is directed at you.♬ CLIPPING. CHAPTER 319 – gatorsneverlose
Again: Over 18,000 people have uploaded videos with this audio. This is not uncommon on TikTok; once people see others lip-syncing to the same sound, or doing a dance to the same sound, they want to create videos with that sound, too. The more people make videos with the sound — in this case, Diggs saying the president is a white supremacist, as is anyone who votes for him — the more likely you’ll see a video of it on your “For You Page” (AKA the TikTok newsfeed). And it just gets all the more popular from there.
In “Chapter 319,” Diggs raps that pre-chorus twice, and each time he ends it differently. The first time: “Call it like it is and then let the rims spin til’ they full stop / Put one up for Big Floyd, the march is not goin’ to stop.” The second time: “America can be better but we must call it out ’til it full stop / Put one up for Breonna, the marching not going to stop.”
Diggs, born in Oakland, California to a white Jewish mom and Black non-Jewish dad, has always been political in his music. While many may know him from his role in Hamilton, his music career predated the Broadway phenomenon.
He grew up participating in slam poetry competitions. “When I started, it was a way to present my ideas in a way that people would listen to,” Diggs explained. “I was a poor Black kid from east Oakland; nobody had any reason to listen to me. Historically, no one listened to me. But all of a sudden with this trick of making it sound pretty, everybody was not only hearing you but excited to hear what you were going to say next. That’s a very powerful thing for a kid to learn.” He soon transformed this into rap, and joined clipping. in 2010.
As I was scrolling TikTok the other night, it was quite the experience to hear Diggs’ trademark cadence again, and again, and again — and in such a blunt condemnation of Trump’s tacit acceptance of his white supremacist supporters. Yet, I shouldn’t be surprised that this song has spread so far. Daveed Diggs is the voice this moment needs.
Header image of Daveed Diggs by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images.