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The Democratic congressional candidate for New York’s 19th district, Antonio Delgado, rhymed about watching porn, masturbating, and attacked capitalism in his past life as a “social justice” rapper.
Delgado, who is challenging Rep. John Faso (R., N.Y.), released an album under the record label “CD Baby” in 2007. Delgado, whom the New York Times considers “much less progressive” than other Democratic House candidates like socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, once tried to pursue a rap career to advance “radical social change” in the United States.
Delgado’s first and only album, Painfully Free, which he released under the pseudonym “AD the Voice,” featured tracks against the Iraq war, capitalism, and American presidents, who he said “believe in white supremacy.”
The New York Post first reported on Delgado’s controversial lyrics, where he “hurls the N-word, slaps the two-party political system, rips the ‘dead’ presidents as ‘white supremacists,’ blasts capitalism, likens blacks to modern day slaves, calls poverty the ‘purest form of terrorism’ and boasts of ‘having sex to a porno flick.'”
“I wanna see a righteous capitalist, if it’s possible for one to exist,” Delgado says in his track entitled, “I Want.”
Delgado’s other lyrics include: “Dead presidents can’t represent me, not when most of them believe in white supremacy, like spittin’ on my ancestry.”
In another song, entitled “SOS,” Delgado questions why the response to Hurricane Katrina “wasn’t as fast as 9/11.”
Other tracks available online include “Venom,” where Delgado raps that America rose “from the ashes of imperialism.”
The song “Draped in Flags” is a political screed against the Bush administration and the Iraq war, which includes lines like, “$283 billion and counting for what we’re spending on terror.”
Delgado raps about how much he loves himself on the track “Life is Hard.”
“Keep pace with my imagination, better yet my infatuation with self-love, i.e., masturbation,” Delgado raps. “Concentration level is low, but I still know what I know, and I’m gonna continue to grow, till I can’t move no more.”
Faso criticized Delgado’s lyrics, saying they are out of step with his constituents in upstate New York.
“I was shocked and surprised to learn Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics,” Faso said. “The tone and tenor of his lyrics, as reported, are not consistent with the views of most people in our district, nor do they represent a true reflection of our nation. Mr. Delgado’s lyrics paint an ugly and false picture of America.”
Delgado deflected criticism of his rap career to Faso’s position on Obamacare.
“If Faso showed the same amount of concern about our health care as he has for my music, he would not have voted to cut health care for thousands of his constituents, like Andrea Mitchell,” Delgado said.
Hybrid Magazine noted at the time of the album’s release that for Delgado, “hip hop is a philosophy to live by, the way Confuciusism [sic] is to others.”
“The album features hardcore hip hop/rap numbers that tear into society’s hypocrisies and imperfections, but he also has songs that rejoice about life and have a genuine appreciation for people,” the magazine said.
Delgado is a graduate of Harvard Law and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. He received accolades for choosing “hip hop over six-figure job offers” after graduating from law school and opting to become a “conscious rapper” instead.
“I believe the natural state of man is painfully free, and to get there we must be prepared to face up to the truth,” Delgado said in 2007. “They say the truth hurts. But it can also set you free. And I would rather be painfully free than remain in painless captivity.”
Delgado said his rap career was about “social justice.”
“Pursuing my passion toward music and hip hop culture was a nontraditional method for pursuing social justice,” he said. “I tried the sensible path toward making change but it was clear after my first year at Harvard Law, that our system of laws might not be capable of facilitating the sort of change I had in mind. However, through music I found a method to illustrate my vehicle for social change—the power of an education.”
“Hip Hop culture, like the Church during the Civil Rights Movement, has the potential to function as an informal educational system, and a political space for radical social change,” Delgado added. “It speaks for the outcasts of society—the single mother, incarcerated father, and abandoned child—those the elite use as a scapegoat when the American dream fails for poor and lower middle class people.”
After only one album, Delgado ended up taking that six-figure lawyer job at Akin Gump, a top-50 law firm with over $1 billion in revenue and the largest lobbying firm in the United States, four years later.