Considering the GOP's many battles with many mainstream artists (Paul Ryan vs. Rage Against the Machine, Mitt Romney vs. the National, Bruce Springsteen vs. Ronald Reagan, etc etc), it's somewhat surprising to hear a Republican candidate speak knowledgeably about contemporary music. But Marco Rubio, a 42-year-old first term Senator from Florida, proved himself to be quite the hip hop head in a recent interview with GQ.
For starters, Rubio is a fan of hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, a fact which GQ notes is almost certainly a first for a mainstream politician. He's also an unabashed fan of Eminem. "The only guy that speaks at any sort of depth is, in my mind, Eminem," Rubio told GQ. "He's a guy that does music that talks about the struggles of addiction and before that violence, with growing up in a broken family, not being a good enough father. So, you know that's what I enjoy about it. It's harder to listen to than ever before because I have a bunch of kids and you just can't put it on."
And he has a decent grasp of hip hop's history. "People forget how dominant Public Enemy became in the mid '80s," he said. "No one talks about how transformative they were. And then that led to the 90s and the sort of East Coast vs. West Coast stuff, which is kinda when I came of age. 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."
But Rubio doesn't have love for everyone. In particular, he's not into Pitbull. "You know you've got the guy from Miami, Pitbull, who's on TV selling a car and then he's advertising for Dr. Pepper," he said. "His songs are all party songs. There's no message for him, compared to like an Eminem. But look, there's always been a role for that in American music. There's always been a party person, but he's a young guy. You know, maybe as he gets older, he'll reflect in his music more as time goes on. I mean, he's not Tupac. He's not gonna be writing poetry."