Dwayne Johnson has shared a message of support for Oliver Anthony, the singer behind the divisive No 1 song “Rich Men North of Richmond”.
Anthony’s track rose to the top of the Billboard music charts this month, setting a new record for a previously uncharted artist. The lyrics to “Rich Men North of Richmond”, however, proved controversial, with some listeners branding them “offensive” and “fatphobic”.
The song attracted endorsements from a number of prominent Republican figures, though Anthony has denied being aligned with any political party and has said that the song was “misinterpreted”.
On Instagram, the musician shared two screenshots of his Spotify account, demonstrating his sudden increase in listeners. In the first screenshot, his monthly listeners stands at just 374. In the second, it is more than 4 million.
“I was thrilled at 300 and I’m thrilled today,” he wrote. “I’m beyond thankful for everyone.”
Responding to Anthony’s Instagram post, Red Notice star Johnson wrote: “Great to connect with u brother.
“Way to handle your fame & influence with class & kindness. Keep kicking a** and see u down the road.”
Last week, Anthony issued a video statement after his song was brought up at the Republican presidential debate.
“It was funny seeing it at the presidential debate, because it’s like I wrote that song about those people,” he said. “So for them to have to sit there and listen to that, that cracks me up. It was funny kind of seeing the response to it.”
He continued: “[‘Rich Men North of Richmond’] has nothing to do with Joe Biden. It’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. That song was written about the people on that stage, and a lot more too, not just them, but definitely them.
“I do hate seeing that song being weaponised, like I see the right trying to characterise me as one of their own. And I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation. That s***’s got to stop.”
Much of the criticism of the song has focused on a line that takes aim at people on welfare.
“Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothing to eat and the obese milking welfare,” Anthony sings. “Well God, if you’re five-ft three and you’re 300 pounds/ Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.”
Like Anthony, Johnson has also described himself as not being affiliated with either of the main US political parties.
In 2022, the actor and former wrestler addressed speculation that he would run for president at the next election.