Earlier this month, The New York Post reported that Antonio Delgado, the Democratic nominee for New York’s 19th Congressional District, released a hip-hop album under the stage name “AD the Voice” in 2006. The album, Painfully Free, critiques capitalism, boasts about his sexual exploits, refers to dead presidents as white supremacists, and repeatedly uses the n-word—par for the course for rap music today.
But Representative John Faso, the district’s Republican nominee, saw an opening to question his opponent’s character. “Mr. Delgado’s lyrics are offensive,” he told The New York Times for an article published today. “It’s his responsibility to answer for the controversial views he expressed in his lyrics and whether he continues to hold these views today.” Delgado, in defending his music to the Times, cited Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar as inspirations. “Issues like income inequality, issues like gender equality, issues like the pollution of our environment and climate change—these are all issues that I talked about back then as an artist that I’m now talking about” as a candidate, he said.
Gerald Benjamin, a friend of Faso and director of the Benjamin Center at State University of New York at New Paltz, went as far as to ask, “Is a guy who makes a rap album the kind of guy who lives here in rural New York and reflects our lifestyle and values?” The 19th district, which includes the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, is 83 percent white—one of the whitest congressional districts in the country, the Times notes. “People like us, people in rural New York, we are not people who respond to this part of American culture,” he said.
Benjamin also claimed that rap isn’t “real music.” In April, Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to win the Pulitzer prize for music—something not even a rock or country musician has ever accomplished.