Looking for a sign that the Republican Party might have some leaders who can appeal to younger voters? Mitt Romney cited the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks and the Eagles among his favorite musicians, but Sen. Marco Rubio raised some eyebrows Monday with hat tips to N.W.A and Public Enemy.
Rubio, 42, who has sparked early 2016 presidential hype with a headlining visit to Iowa over the weekend, spoke to GQ about a number of topics, but his opinions on music and the Earth’s age overshadowed his perspective on President Obama and young Republicans.
The Florida senator highlighted N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton,” “Killuminati” by Tupac Shakur and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem as his three favorite rap songs and offered his own views on the modern hip-hop scene.
“Hip-hop’s 30 years old now and it’s crossed over and sort of become indistinguishable from pop music in general,” Rubio said. “You know, many people say Nicki Minaj is a rapper, but she’s also a singer. Kanye’s another guy who’s also a rapper, but his songs aren’t pure rap anymore. There’s also all these collaborations going on, which confuses everything. 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.”
N.W.A, which broke new ground during the late 1980s, drew attention from groups like Focus on the Family, with its debut album, “Straight Outta Compton,” among the first to be given the new “parental advisory” status. And the chorus of the second song from that debut, dedicated to the group’s pointed rebuke of police brutality, by itself is still bound to raise hackles among social conservatives.
As for Eminem, Rubio acknowledged that “It’s harder to listen to than ever before because I have a bunch of kids and you just can’t put it on.”
Rubio’s preferences may seem inconsequential to his politics, but musicians played a prominent role in this year’s presidential election. Obama campaign events leaned heavily on stars like Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z, with the two performers joining forces on the final day of campaigning.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, highlighted his love for Springsteen in an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” And Romney’s vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), used his music preferences to contrast his relative youth with Romney’s age during his address at the Republican National Convention, referring to his iPod, which “starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.”
But if Rubio’s playlists don’t necessarily play to the Republican base, his stance on the Earth’s age edges a bit closer to appealing to the party’s religious base.
“I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to team them all,” Rubio said.
“Whether the Earth was created in seven days or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”