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DOWD: Gangsta pol: The rap on Marco Rubio

  • (JEFF DANZIGER / New York Times Syndicate)

Not long ago, scrolling for a movie, I saw that “Notorious” was on.

How can you resist Cary Grant as an American spy in Rio recruiting Ingrid Bergman to seduce and betray a Nazi played by Claude Rains? But it turned out to be a very different “Notorious,” one about the rise of gangsta rapper Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G., his artistic relationship with Sean “Puffy” Combs at Bad Boy Records in New York and the bloody East vs. West feud between Biggie and Tupac Shakur, a star in L.A. who spent his final year at Death Row records.

Like the 1946 “Notorious,” the 2009 gangsta rap saga offered sex, strife, danger, gats, Champagne, a strong immigrant mother and trust issues. Crack replaced uranium as the perilous substance. The movie climaxed with Tupac getting shot in a car on the Las Vegas Strip in 1996 and then, in retaliation six months later, Biggie getting shot in a car in L.A.

Little did I know, as I brushed up on gangsta rap history, that the topic would soon spice up the overture to the 2016 presidential race.

Gangsta rap used to be a reliable issue for politicians, but they were denouncing it. Now Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is praising it — and right at the moment when Republicans are pushing the argument that guns don't kill people; it's a culture glorifying guns and violence that kills people.

The ubiquitous 41-year-old — who's on the cover of Time as “The Republican Savior” —looked as if he needed some saving himself as he delivered the party's response to the State of the Union address in English (and Spanish). He seemed parched, shaky and sweaty, rubbing his face and at one point lunging off-camera to grab a bottle of water. He needed some of the swagger reflected on the Spotify playlist he recently released featuring Tupac's “Changes,” as well as Flo Rida, Pitbull, The Sugar Hill Gang, Kanye, Big Sean, devoted Obama supporters Jay-Z and Will.I.Am, and a Foster the People song about “a cowboy kid” who finds a gun in his dad's closet and goes after “all the other kids with the pumped up kicks.”

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