Sen. Marco Rubio channeled Tipper Gore on the campaign trail this week, railing against the harmful influence of contemporary music, movies and other hubs of pop culture.
Rubio’s comments came Tuesday in New Hampshire, as Republicans voted in a presidential primary whose results would relegate him to a disappointing fifth-place finish.
“It’s become harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in movies, in music, in popular culture,” Rubio said in Nashua, N.H. in his last stump speech on primary day. The passage was made famous because Rubio actually repeated the statement twice, playing into earlier criticism about robotic adherence to talking points.
But Rubio’s remarks were interesting for another reason, recalling criticism made a generation ago by the now-separated wife of then-Sen. Al Gore. After hearing her 11-year-old daughter listening to “Darling Nikki,” a sexually explicit song by Prince, Tipper Gore joined with Susan Baker, the wife of then-Treasury Secretary James Baker, to launch a campaign against inappropriate pop song lyrics.
The two women established the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985, which with the National PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics helped persuade record companies to put warning labels on songs with violent or sexual content.
Since then, many pop hits have become even raunchier and more explicit. Rap stars from Eminem to Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z have enjoyed mega-hits whose words leave little to the imagination.
The problem for Rubio? He’s a big hip-hop fan, and some of his favorite artists are known for their violent, sexually explicit lyrics.
When I’m called off, I got a sawed-off, squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off.
Verse from N.W.A.’s ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ Sen. Marco Rubio’s favorite hip hop song
Last April, the Washington Post aggregated a number of Rubio’s past statements in which he expressed appreciation for Eminem, Tupac and other rap stars.
In an appearance that month on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Rubio gave a special shout-out to Armando Christian Perez, the Miami native better known as Pitbull.
“Pitbull’s become a friend and someone that we’re very proud of,” Rubio said.
One of Pitbull’s hit songs, “Dirty,” contains the words:
“Everything we do is dirty
We pull up in the drop, it’s dirty
We pound that tw*t, it’s dirty
Miami, we’re dirty, where they lace ’em, roll ’em, smoke ’em and blow ’em dirty
Guns they hold ’em, if they clean, dogg, we make ’em dirty.”
24 Number of profane references in “Insane,” 2009 song by Eminem
In November 2012, Rubio told GQ Magazine that his favorite hip-hop song was “Straight Outta Compton,” the 1988 blockbuster by N.W.A., a former group whose rise and fall was chronicled in the hit movie last year by the same name.
Most of the lyrics in the song “Straight Outta Compton” can’t be printed in a family newspaper or on a mainstream website, but among the tamer words is the line:
“When I’m called off, I got a sawed-off, squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off.”
Another song on the same album by N.W.A. is entitled: “F--- Tha Police, A Bitch is a Bitch.”
For a sampling of other Rubio favorites, you can check out the Spotify list he compiled in 2013:
James Rosen: 202-383-0014; @jamesmarinrose