Donald Trump Makes This L.A. Musician Want to Smoke Crack

Swedish-born musician Ledinsky, pictured here, says he went to see the billboard after his manager told him about it: "It's extremely noticeable. My Uber guy nearly crashed his car."EXPAND
Swedish-born musician Ledinsky, pictured here, says he went to see the billboard after his manager told him about it: "It's extremely noticeable. My Uber guy nearly crashed his car."
David Sandstrom

On Oct. 12, at the intersection of Westerly Terrace and Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, the latest provocation against the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency was unveiled: It's a red, white and blue billboard inscribed, "Donald Trump Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack." The words happen to be the title of the first track from the debut album of Ledinsky, a musician based in nearby Los Feliz. But Ledsinky swears to L.A. Weekly the billboard wasn't his idea; a music attorney named Jordan Bromley heard about the song and put the catchy title on the billboard on his own.  

"It's this guy Jordan Bromley who I've never met," says Ledinsky, 37, a Swede who has lived in the United States for a decade. "It's extremely noticeable. My Uber guy nearly crashed his car. We're all gonna get sued by Trump, and it's going to be a cold Christmas for everybody, especially if he wins." 

Ledinsky says he composed the song in his basement one morning in June. It was a satirical impulse — a songwriter's way of coping with the atmosphere of the Trump campaign, which he likens to the dark days of the 1930s in Europe. "It really feels like we're like half an inch away from total disaster, and that's what the song is about." 

MTV made Beck want to smoke crack in the 1990s, and Ledinsky acknowledges the Beck song was in the back of his head when he wrote his. He says the title was not intended to make light of addiction; rather, it speaks to the sense of desperation he feels about the possibility of a Trump presidency.  "The subject matter is so intense, so I wanted to make something masquerading as something fun. I don't want anyone to smoke crack. That's the last thing I'd want anyone to do," he says.

Ledinsky's label, Atlantic Records, had no objection to the message but worried the song might be too gimmicky, and too distracting to include on his debut album, High Society. Ledinsky describes himself as "a poet, songwriter, card-carrying feminist, lover of canines and cannabis, and aspiring happy idiot." 

Unexpectedly, "DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack" (unlike the billboard, the track title does not use spaces between the words) landed at No. 1 on the United States Viral 50 on Spotify. And while it was streamed more than 5 million times in two weeks, Ledinsky says he's also gotten quite a few death threats in that time. Author Dave Eggers chose to include it in his playlist "30 Days, 30 Songs," which features music “written and recorded by musicians for a Trump-free America.” The list includes artists like Death Cab for Cutie, R.E.M., Aimee Mann ... and Ledinsky

Ledinsky's manager, Erik Eger, says that while in New York he saw the chairman of Atlantic Records Group, Julie Greenwald, wearing a promotional T-shirt for the song. 

Eger and Ledinsky had contemplated launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a billboard in view of Trump Tower in Manhattan. It never got off the ground. "We were getting resistance about smoking crack on a billboard," Ledinsky says. "Then [Bromley] hits us up about putting it on a billboard in L.A."

Bromley declined to speak with L.A. Weekly for this story, but Eger says Bromley regularly rents the same billboard on Sunset and that he ordinarily uses it to display positive messages. (The street-view option on Google Maps shows that in July of last year, the billboard's message was “I Like You Very Much.")

The story behind the Trump billboard is this: Atlantic Records made buttons promoting Ledinsky's Trump song, and Jim Chancellor of Fiction Records wore one of them to a meeting with Bromley, who got the idea to put the message on the billboard he rents on Sunset.  The billboard company agreed but stipulated that "Donald Trump Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack" amounted to political advertising, subject to campaign-finance laws. Which is why Bromley's name appears at the bottom. 

California hasn't been up for grabs in a national election since Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, and it's certainly no battleground state today. Hillary Clinton has a 99.9 percent likelihood of defeating Trump and carrying the Golden State's 55 electoral votes in the November election, according to the most recent survey by FiveThirtyEight. But the wide margin of victory hasn't discouraged provocateurs of Silver Lake, Hollywood and Los Feliz. 

In July, Plastic Jesus built a wall around Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In August, Indecline displayed a nude, nearly dickless statue of the Donald outside Wacko on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz.

Ledinsky says his song is an homage to his adopted country, and to California's prominence in what Ledinksy calls "the spiritual enlightenment of America" since the 1960s.

Ledinsky recently became a US.. citizen and says that though Bernie Sanders had his support in the primary season, Hillary Clinton now has his vote all the way. He says he wishes more artists were devoting their energies to stopping Trump.  

"Robert De Niro is angry — where are the other 400,000 artists and creatives who should be doing everything to make it a 0 percent chance of this guy being in charge of 1,500 nukes?" 

Ledinsky's management team held a contest for animators to create a music video to the song. Here was the winner: 


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