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The Unknown Music: ‘Ronnies Rap’

A blast from the past, which feels way in the past.

Devin Townsend



Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to find and write about a physical piece of music (CD, album or cassette) they had no prior knowledge of. You can find out how it all unfolded  by browsing our music section/

In the current political environment of the United States — with most people being offended by something or unhappy with something — it might be a good idea to look to Ron & The D.C. Crew’s, Ronnies Rap (released in 1986) for inspiration.

A poppy and upbeat song based on Ronald Reagan, if he was, um, a rapper. With shoutouts to his wife Nancy and George Bush, the “Big Gipper” has some things to say to the American people.

 I was going through my parent’s record collection recently, I came across a red and black vinyl cover that contained “Ronnie’s Rap.” Initially this didn’t spark my interest, but after looking through multiple records of Prince and Michael Jackson, I decided to listen this low-key looking vinyl. To my surprise, out came a rap song in the character of Ronald Reagan.

As the song begins, “Hail to the Chief” starts to play until in the background, but soon switches into the funky pop style sound of the 80’s. From scratching on the beat to bursts of presidential trumpet playing, this song sounds like it belongs in a time machine. With all of this in mind, the best word to describe this song is corny. Images of Reagan pointing and rapping to a camera while spitting his presidential bars remind me of a Weird Al Yankovic cover.     

In this song, Reagan throws shots at Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in a comedic way.

“Met with Gorbachev in ’85 / To talk about how everyone could stay alive / And though he seemed to be a guy with class / If he doesn’t play ball, we’ll nuke his… country!”

Fully expecting the last line to end with “we’ll nuke his ass,” it was a funny twist when the lyric took an unexpected turn.

“Reagan” also describes a typical day in the White House, all while being the best rapper in D.C.

“Well, I get up in the morning, and I have some toast / And Nancy and I take a ride up the coast / I’ll sign a bill, then take a nap/ This is what I call my Presidential Rap!”

I’m not entirely sure what makes this so presidential, but I imagine this was his regular routine. 

Another striking aspect of this song was the chorus.

“I’m the Big Gipper, don’t mess with me / I’m the baddest rapper this side of D.C / With my best girl Nancy as my spouse / Rappin’ to you from that big White House.”

This being not far from what most rappers talk about in their songs, girls and how big their house is, Reagan is no exception. 

There is very little content to this song and it seems like it would be more of a comedy skit than an actual song played on the radio. I imagine this would be the type of song that Saturday Night Live would use for a humorous take on politics.

Another image that is displayed when the song is on is people at a disco-tech with a glowing floor doing the robot or someone working a DJ booth in the street with people breakdancing on some cardboard in front of them.

It’s hard to imagine a time when this song was popular, but I can see why people would like it. It’s very similar to political commentary that happens in today’s industry, especially when there are groups like The Lonely Island. This isn’t something that should be played every day or any day for that matter, but it’s a funny song nonetheless.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Devin Townsend is a James Madison University student and student journalist born and raised in northern Virginia. Currently he’s studying for a degree in journalism and working for the school newspaper, The Breeze, in the culture section. This section covers music, movies, food and events happening in the Harrisonburg community. Currently, Devin is working to finish his degree, in his free time he enjoys playing club lacrosse at JMU, rooting for the L.A Chargers and hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.

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