One of the ways youngish Republicans try to reach out to America's youth is by publicly declaring their love of music artists who, while not all that new, do cuss enough to upset the people at The National Review. Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign made a big deal of his love of prog rock and the time he spent in a band named Wizard. Paul Ryan told the Republican National Convention that he wasn't that much like Mitt Romney because he liked AC/DC so much. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is particularly fond of mentioning his love of Tupac Shakur, and on Tuesday he released his Spotify playlist, which featured artists like U2 and Flo Rida and, of course, "Changes" by Tupac. Tupac is widely loved and has the aura of edginess despite his biggest hits being inoffensive pop tunes. But in Rubio's case, Tupac fandom is glaringly off-message.
There's a great documentary on Tupac called Resurrection about the last few years of Tupac's life and how he transformed. And, ironically, how this East Coast rapper became this West Coast icon, back when all that Death Row/Sean Combs stuff was going on. Hip Hop's 30 years old now and it's crossed over and sort of become indistinguishable from pop music in general.
A June 2010 interview with Human Events had this exchange:
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
RUBIO: My old Tupac Shakur CDs.
That's all very nice, but if anyone should take the Team Biggie side in the classic Biggie-vs.-Tupac debate, it should be an ambitious Republican senator. Tupac was the son of coastal leftist radicals; he was reportedly named after the leader of a Peruvian uprising. Like so many lefty males of an earlier era, he veered into misogyny. His rival, The Notorious B.I.G., rapped about his up-from-his-bootstraps small-business acumen ("To all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustling in front of that called the police on me when I was just trying to make some money to feed my daughter...") that helped him support his family. ("Thinking back on my one-room shack/ Now my mom pimps a Ac with minks on her back") This story, minus some violent episodes, is the story Rubio likes to tell about immigrants who come to America to make a better life for their children. Embracing Biggie, not Tupac, will give Rubio total talking point synergy, because Biggie's mom was an immigrant.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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