Though the 2012 election just wrapped up, punditry and the media alike have begun speculating about who will run for the presidency in 2016.
Among GOP names like governors Bobby Jindal (La.) and Chris Christie (N.J.), Representative Marco Rubio (Fla.) has shot to the front of the pack. For good reason, his is a popular name in GOP stables. He's a well-liked, wide-eyed Tea Party favorite who toes the lines on conservative ideals. More importantly, to Republicans, Rubio is popular with Floridians and Hispanic-Americans, both of whom the GOP will need to woo if it wants to win in 2016. Rubio's recent presence in Iowa could be a sign that he's already testing the waters.
There's one thing American voters probably don't know about Marco Rubio, though.
He loves rap music.
During long campaign trips, Rubio has been known to blast Snoop Dogg. In a new interview with GQ, Rubio explains the genesis of his fixation with hip hop.
The Tea Party favorite admits that while Public Enemy was dominant in the mid 80s, he was weened on the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry. His three favorite rap songs, he says, are "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A., "Killuminati" by Tupac, and "Lose Yourself" by Eminem.
Artist wise, Rubio admires Eminem and Tupac, who he says rap about human messages and issues. Tupac, Rubio likens to a poet, while he calls the West Coast hip hop movement transformative.
Nowadays, though, Rubio finds little meaning in rap.
"It's crossed over and sort of become indistinguishable from pop music in general," Rubio says.
He says the crossover, pop-rap appeal of artists like Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Pitbull has watered down rap to the level of a financially-motivated, empty sub-genre. According to Rubio, today's hip hop is dominated by collaborations between megastars and advertisements masquerading as art.
Today, he says, Eminem is the only hip-hop artist who brings meaning to music.
"The only guy that speaks at any sort of depth is, in my mind, Eminem," Rubio says. "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."
Though he and Pitbull both hail from Miami, Rubio is outspokenly critical of the Cuban rapper Pitbull.
"His songs are all party songs," Rubio says. "There's no message for him, compared to like an Eminem."
Rubio doesn't fault Pitbull for the pop appeal of his music. He does, however, lament that rap isn't the same gritty, poetic genre it once was.
"I mean, he's not Tupac," says Rubio of Pitbull. "He's not gonna be writing poetry."