Late last month, 'CIT4DT,' a music video featuring three Baltimore County teens rapping a goofy, pointed anti-Donald Trump song went viral. Over a stark though springy beat—swiped from Detroit rapper Rocaine's song 'Chicken Chicken'—Dooley, Tlow, and Lor Roger threaten Trump ("We got a chopper in the trunk/ For Donald Trump") and trade terse insults, the dozens-style: Dooley, an online comedian with a substantive following, raps, "Boy, ain't even white/ You yellow/ You say you'd date your own daughter, you a sicko"; Tlow reminds people of what happened to Trump in Chicago when protesters shut down his rally; and Lor Roger says he's got some hollow points for the GOP frontrunner if Trump doesn't rein in his rhetoric.
'CIT4DT' quickly spread across the Internet where it was shared and reposted a number of times by other sites trying to glom onto its imminent virality: It's an indelicate song for the indelicate Donald. But the song has also caught the attention of Trump supporters and the fringes of the right-wing media, with bloggers invoking Baltimore's unrest to talk about the teens, wondering where their parents are, and projecting other stereotypes onto them. That Dooley is on probation and has a brother in prison—both of which he brought up to City Paper, by the way—is supposedly evidence these are bad kids. Fox News' Sean Hannity aired a clip of the video and described 'CIT4DT,' as "a disturbing rap video threatening violence against Donald Trump."
"They're blowing it out of proportion," Dooley, 19, says, sitting near the fountain at the Avenue in White Marsh, with Tlow and Lor Roger by his side. "They're taking it too serious."
"I been laughing at the comments and the people that are mad we did it," Lor Roger, 17, says. "The comments are the funniest thing."
"They're saying we're thugs," Dooley, who is Muslim, interrupts. "And they're bringing Islam into it. I don't appreciate that."
"They're just proving our point more," Tlow, 18, says.
The three are amused by the way they've been turned into a symbol of all that's wrong with Baltimore.
"Man, they don't even know it's from the county," Roger says.
"And we're far from thugs," Tlow declares.
"Being a thug is stupid, know what I'm saying?" Dooley adds.
'CIT4DT' started when Dooley was talking to some rapper friends of his in California who said they wanted to make a Donald Trump video. He said they should do a Donald Trump song instead.
"Because I'm not a rapper, I told them to make a Donald Trump song. But they didn't do it, they said they was scared, so I said 'I'll do it,'" Dooley says. "I was listening to a beat while I was on the phone and came up with 'I got a chopper in the trunk for Donald Trump.' I just kept saying it. It was catchy, so I put it to that Rocaine beat and I was like, 'This kinda hard.' I was gonna do the video by myself but I thought it would be more hype if it was with my homeboys."
With an iPhone, a selfie stick, and a whole bunch of teenaged energy and political frustration, they shot the video at the basketball court at Hawthorne Elementary School in Middle River two weekends ago at the start of Baltimore County's spring break.
Hovering nearby is Roger's mother, Latanya, who jokingly calls herself the trio's "momager"— she's here to make sure they're not taken advantage of or exploited as more media outlets reach out for interviews. She has been tracking the growth of the song—over at WorldStarHipHop, it has more than 375,000 views, while the official version uploaded by Dooley currently has around 220,000 views.
She's also frustrated by how much has been projected onto the teens.
"This is their generation. This is the way they speak," she says, adding that parents have to "grow with each generation and be understanding."
Latanya, who is 40, says that her "parents looked at hip-hop the same way" back when she was listening to artists such as Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A., and Public Enemy.
She also has some strong words for Trump: "We're the 99 percent and he's the 1 percent with the money. He's privileged to run for president."
Latanya's voting for Bernie Sanders and she plans to take all the kids in the neighborhood, including Dooley, Tlow, and Roger to go vote for the first time.
'CIT4DT' is part of a decades-long tradition of rap that references Trump, which makes sense: Trump's brash asshole billionaire attitude mirrors the aspirational approach of hip-hop (recent examples include Rae Sremmurd's 'Up Like Trump' and Mac Miller's 'Donald Trump'; a personal favorite is E-40's 'Trump Change'). And because he's so synonymous with wealth, Trump's easy lyrical shorthand for success. It probably also helps that "Trump" rhymes with lots of things.
Other rappers however, have used him as a villain: Over the years, Nas has frequently referenced Trump with derision and J. Cole's 'Song For The Ville' from 2011 angrily equates Trump and Bill Gates with the kind of leg-up access exclusive to whites (incidentally, the white guy that rolled up on Trump in Dayton, Ohio was wearing a J. Cole Dreamville T-shirt).
But whatever usefulness Trump had as a nouveau riche metonym wore out its welcome once he began his horrifying run for president. Kendrick Lamar—whose 'Alright' was victoriously chanted after protesters took over a Trump rally in Chicago—references Trump in his song from last year, 'Black Friday.' Lamar mocks Trump voters and counters The Donald worship with, "Mr. Kanye West for president." Curiously, the day after 'CIT4DT' blew up, Los Angeles rappers YG and Nipsey Hussle released a song titled 'FDT,' housing a shouty hook of "fuck Donald Trump."
"['FDT'] don't jump like ours jump though," Roger says confidently.
And there are other anti-Trump songs floating around Baltimore right now. In February, Baltimore club producer Rip Knoxx released a fizzy, art-damaged remix of 'Freedom and Liberty,' that insane song performed at a Trump rally by the USA Freedom Kids, a cluster of right-wing, pre-teen performers who have appeared at events for Ben Carson and Trump.
Rip Knoxx says he saw the USA Freedom Kids video and, in its "super awkward-ness," thought it had some potential for the Bmore club treatment: "I just threw some stuff in here and there, felt it out, and went along with what sounded best." Knoxx calls Trump "a narcissistic talking turkey," and adds "I wasn't going to vote...but I'm kind of feeling the Bernman Savage. So, I'll probably vote for him. Hillary tries too hard."
Baltimore rapper Kemet Dank, meanwhile, recently released a song titled 'Throw Dat Vote On Up' with a music video he shot in front of City Hall. The song encourages people to practice their civic duty but adds, "as long as it ain't for Donald Trump." As he delivers those lines, an illustration of Trump's face crossed-out and the words "No Trump" pop-up on the screen.
Neither of these songs have gotten as much attention of 'CIT4DT' for obvious reasons: they aren't as entertaining or vitriolic or catchy as Dooley, Tlow, and Lor Roger's anthem (though they are still well worth your time).
Back at the Avenue, Dooley, Tlow, and Lor Roger's conversation meanders back to their disbelief that people are taking their song so seriously—not as protest music, but as a legitimate threat lobbed Trump's way.
"It's just a diss song," Roger says. "People make music like this all the time talking about wanting to kill each other but nobody says nothing."
"If you say you wanna kill other black people nobody cares but as soon as you say it about a white man, it's a problem," Tlow says.
Both Dooley and Rogers are Bernie supporters while Tlow is undecided.
"I don't know who I'm voting for yet. I'm going to watch the debates," Tlow says thoughtfully. "But not Trump—not Trump!"