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Rappin’ Ramaswamy: The Republican Presidential Candidate Was a Rapper at Harvard Under the Moniker ‘Da Vek’

Rappin’ Ramaswamy: The Republican Presidential Candidate Was a Rapper at Harvard Under the Moniker ‘Da Vek’

  • A big fan of Eminem, the first Hindu to make a White House bid, apparently sees himself as an insurgent-like figure, much like the White rap star.

Vivek Ramaswamy always knew what kind of a presidential candidate he would be — “experimental, outgoing and most comfortable in the spotlight.” He realized this not when he was preparing to launch his presidential campaign, but before he even thought about it — as a student at Harvard. At the time, the Indian American biotech entrepreneur, author, and ‘anti-woke’ activist, had a side hustle and a monicker. He was “a libertarian-minded” rapper who went by the stage name “Da Vek,” as reported by Politico. “The gig was an early sign of the extroverted, self-assured personality that has propelled him far further in the primary than virtually anyone expected.”

In an interview with the publication, Ramaswamy said he was highly inspired by Eminem. “I saw myself, honestly, making it big through American capitalism, and that’s why the Eminem story spoke to me.” He was particularly inspired by the American rapper’s breakout hit “Lose Yourself” which came out in 2002, the year before he went to Harvard. “In Eminem, he found an insurgent-like figure, the kind of persona Ramaswamy aspired to and still seems to draw at least some inspiration from,” Politico noted.

In a December 2016 interview with The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, Ramaswamy described “Lose Yourself” as his life’s theme song. “I think that children should be forced to listen to it,” he said,. “The edited version, of course.”

His first gig as a rapper came in the spring semester of his freshman year, the Politico report said. It was during an open call for student performers to be warm-up acts for Busta Rhymes, who that spring was to perform at the school’s Lavietes Pavilion. “Ramaswamy took a shot. It was the first time he tried it. And it worked.,” Politico said. The Crimson reported at the time that 3000 students attended the show. “That definitely got him notoriety with the class, for sure,” Paul Davis, who met Ramaswamy at Harvard and is a longtime friend of the now-candidate, told the paper.

Over the next four years, Ramaswamy became a regular at Harvard open-mic nights, where he often rapped “Lose Yourself.” He also experimented with lyrics tinged with libertarian themes, which he would embrace down the road as he became more politically active.

Ramaswamy, who was raised in a traditional Hindu family but attended a Catholic high school, describes Harvard as the ideal playground for intellectual sport. He affirms that “Harvard teaches you to be a better questioner…you can be heard even if you aren’t in the mainstream.” In addition to rapping and politicking, Ramaswamy is one of three College representatives on the Presidential Search Committee and is involved with the South Asian Association, club tennis, and intramural sports. 

In its 2016 profile on Ramaswamy, The Crimson described him as “someone who could go back and forth between two different personas: The Chairman,” named for his role atop the Harvard Political Union, and his rapper alter-ego.” According to the profile, “Da Vek only emerges when Ramaswamy is outfitted entirely in black, complete with a black Kangol hat.”

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Although he never seriously considered a career in rap, he and his wife Apoorva Ramaswamy told Politico that they attribute his love for the genre to “the outgoing nature he has exhibited on the trail.” Apoorva Ramaswamy told Politico that her husband “goes all in on whatever he’s interested in at any given time.,” including “the insignificant portion of time,” when her “future husband was on the Manhattan standup scene and doing shows while being an investor.”

The itch to rap is still intact with Ramaswamy, Politico noted, adding that “post-Harvard, he has belted out Eminem at open-mic nights, bars, and parties. However, the rapper’s “Lose Yourself” has been replaced with “Till I Collapse.” There is a remote possibility he might bring Da Vet to the campaign trail “to appeal to younger voters.”

Will that help, only time will tell. But right now, the young man is enjoying the limelight, the increasing support, and the rise in poll numbers. He’s been a”n omnipresent figure, demonstrating an eagerness to appear on a wide and diverse range of media platforms” —- a trait Politico attributes to his rapping days. 

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