Marco Rubio has never been shy about his rap fandom, telling GQ that Tupac's "Killuminati" is among his favorite songs and offering Spotify playlists packed with Kanye, Pitbull, and Flo Rida.
But last night probably marked the first time Rubio took his hip-hop love to the Senate floor, where he quoted Wiz Khalifa and Jay-Z to support Sen. Rand Paul's 12-hour filibuster against drone attacks.
As usual, there are a couple of ways to look at Rubio's rap obsession. It's refreshing to see a GOP senator acknowledging a major part of American popular culture and calling Jay-Z a "modern-day poet."
Sure, this could all be some focus-group-tested ploy to bring a new demographic into the Republican fold, but honestly, the intersection of Jay-Z fans and GOP faithful is pretty tiny on the Venn diagram, and Rubio tossing out a few lyrics won't change that. (Plus, as the Atlantic has pointed out, if the rap thing is a political front, why wouldn't Rubio eschew Tupac, the son of radical leftists, for Biggie, who rapped in the guise of a small businessman making it big?)
But there's also something undeniably disconcerting about a guy who's the new face of a party that has spent decades preaching intolerance of gays, minorities, and immigrants, repping a genre that, by and large, stands for the opposite.
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As our own Kyle Munzenrieder wrote of Rubio putting Tupac's "Changes" on his last Spotify playlist:
The sad irony of a Republican senator loving this song is almost too much to bear. If Rubio burned CDs of this track for every Republican on Capitol Hill, how many congressmen would realize, "Wait, our policies are kind of racist"?
Did anyone on the floor have that epiphany while listening to a Jay-Z lyric last night? No?