Last night, Jimmy Fallon had the Republican candidate for president Donald Trump on The Tonight Show. He lobbed softball questions at him and capped off the segment by playfully tousling Trump’s hair, like he was just a normal, friendly guy with a bad toupée, and not the man who made it okay to be a white supremacist in public again. The segment, and Fallon in particular, have been met with scorn for being dangerously apolitical, but it seems like Fallon’s house band, The Roots, weren’t content with being so passive.
When Trump walked onstage for his interview with Fallon, The Roots played Erykah Badu’s song “20 Feet Tall,” specifically the section with the following lyrics:
Then you, you built a wall / A 20 foot wall, so I couldn’t see / But if I get off my knees …
The final line of that verse, which wasn’t sang on air, is, “I might recall, I’m 20 feet tall.”
In this context, the references to the wall are undeniably about Trump and his stupid idea to build an impossible wall across the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border, and it’s hard not to interpret the final two lines as a rejection of the wall and thus, of Trump himself.
To be fair, this is definitely a more subtle jab at Trump than The Roots’ song choice for when Michele Bachmann appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2011. The Roots played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as her walk-on song, igniting a mini-scandal that almost got them fired and forced all subsequent song choices to be run by NBC execs.
Maybe Questlove slipped it by the NBC execs by passing it off as a fun reference to Trump’s actual policy, but based on The Roots’ history and political standings, it seems unlikely that that’s all they meant by it.
We’ll still have to wait to see whether this will blow up like the Bachmann incident did, or whether it’s subtle enough to remain under the radar, but at least we know there were some people at The Tonight Show who weren’t happy to see Trump on that stage.
You can hear the song in the video below.