Faso hammers Delgado on past hip-hop lyrics; Delgado says Faso’s ‘feeding into racial biases’

John Faso (photo by Phyllis McCabe) and Antonio Delgado (photo by Dion Ogust)

New York 19th Congressional District hopeful Antonio Delgado is pushing back this week after Republican incumbent John Faso seized on an article in Monday’s New York Post highlighting lyrics from Delgado’s 2006 hip-hop album to argue that his opponent is out of step with the views of his would-be constituents. 

The article highlights a number of lyrics from Delgado’s — under the nom de rap AD The Voice — 2006 effort “Painfully Free” in which he refers to “dead presidents” as white supremacists, likens poverty to terrorism and questions whether there can be such a thing as a “righteous capitalist.” The story also points out Delgado’s (who is black) frequent use of the word “nigga” on the album, including on a track entitled “Niggas?” that wrestles with the near-ubiquitous the use of the word in hip-hop: “Look like we only goin’ from chains to cuffs /still niggas still locked up on stuff.” 

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On another track, Delgado raps “Dead presidents can’t represent me, not when most of them believe in white supremacy/like spittin’ on my ancestry.”

Faso’s response was swift. “In recent media reports, I was shocked and surprised to learn that Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics,” said Faso in a statement to Ulster Publishing. “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.”

The issue of the lyrics is not new to the campaign. Just four days before the June 26 Democratic primary, which Delgado won, a Twitter account called NY19ForChange, which had apparently just been created, started tweeting about the lyrics. The account called them “disgusting” and argued that they put Delgado in a very difficult position to beat Faso in the general election. “No apology from [Delgado] for using misogynistic lyrics …” a tweet stated. The account has since been deleted.

Despite the fact that the lyrics were a known factor and potential line of attack, none of Delgado’s six fellow Democrats in the primary publicly made an issue of his former hip-hop career.

Delgado was quick to strike back. In an interview, the Schenectady native who moved to Rhinebeck shortly before announcing his candidacy said Faso’s remarks were part of a divisive and race-baiting strategy to paint him as an “outsider” in the largely white, largely rural congressional district.

“He’s feeding into racial biases that could be conscious or subconscious, that’s the unfortunate reality,” said Delgado, who gave up his hip-hop career to attend Harvard law school and go on to a career in corporate law. “A real leader, with integrity, would know better, would be better than that.”

Delgado accused his critics of cherry-picking lyrics from an album that, taken in its entirety, sent a positive message. His lyrics, he said, were part of a long tradition of politically and socially conscious rap and were intended to promote civic awareness and engagement among hip-hop fans. On the anti-Iraq war track “Draped in Flags,” for example, Delgado raps, “Ask the leadership why, objectively criticize that’s what a patriot does in hard times/so we can learn to be better so we can truly epitomize the principles and proselytize while we eulogize lost lives.”

Delgado added that his opponent’s willingness to jump on the Post story without reaching out to him for context or clarification reflected a campaign seeking to avoid real engagement on issues like health care and infrastructure.

“How you define if someone is qualified for this job is by their willingness to do the work, to build for the future,” said Delgado. “[Faso] is the exact opposite of that; he’s an empty suit, a career politician and a puppet.”

There are 6 comments

  1. Shirley Polishook

    Mr Faso, We understand you object to your opponent’s Hip Hop lyrics. And yet, we have no idea what you think about YOUR president’s possibly treasonous contacts with the Russians. 12 Russian Military officers indicted. 4 Trump advisors have plead guilty to charges. Now, you apparently plan to allow YOUR president to select his own judges and to allow him to pardon his criminals, just as he pardoned the 2 Oregon arsonists.

  2. Bruce E. Woych

    Thank you Shirley for putting this back into real time historic context. We are growing weary of the brinkmanship, crisis and chaos brought to us as politicized fallacies and righteous indignation by Republicans that speak from both sides of their mouth with empty rhetoric, hate mongering and exploiting the fearful environments they themselves have constructed in our country out of self service and greed. Your particular call for Faso to explain why he has not stood up to defend our country from Russian conspiratorial strategies that are now proven to have corrupted our democratic elections.

    So while Faso is critiquing Hip-Hop lyrics, we need to assess Faso’s Flip-Flop politics of hypocritical stances. Faso seems to believe that the New York Post is the source of best unbiased information on candidates, while we might argue it is more of a source for inflammation and provocation with intentional political intent.

    Meanwhile New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait ( http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/trump-putin-russia-collusion.html)…has written a devastating intelligent analysis for the State of the Nation under the Trump/Putin partnership. Every citizen that calls themselves a patriot needs to read this and ask Faso…where has he been hiding while the country is being sold out! See: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?

  3. Judith Simon

    There has not been a word of condemnation by Faso for Trump’s anti-Democratic, anti-immigrant, misogynist, racist, remarks and actions, his denigration of US institutions (FBI, CIA, Justice Dept.) , his remarkable passion for dictators and for anything Russian, and his general hatefulness and rudeness. Either Faso does not have the guts to speak up about what is happening TODAY in his own party or, even worse, he agrees with it. Instead he uses innuendo and racism to attack his opponent for rap songs performed years ago in what was, in effect, another lifetime. Faso has voted again and again for policies that are ripping apart the lives of his constituents – from health care to taxes. Unable to stand on his record his intention is to reduce the election campaign to name-calling and race-baiting. Fortunately, his constituents are too smart for his nonsense.

  4. Daniel G

    I think it is worth remembering that Antonio Delgado’s hip-hop song were written in 2006 when he was fresh from graduating at Harvard Law School and trying to make a difference to connect with intercity youth in Los Angeles. While hip-hop is not my cup of tea (and not that of many in NY19), the song speaks to and is consistent with music which is listened to by the intercity youth which Delgado was trying to make a connection. If I may ask, what has John Faso ever down in his life to try to connect or make a difference to troubled intercity youth in anywhere in America. Other than working to benefit Corporations and the high net worth elite, John Faso knows nothing about this demographic in America. It is fact that at the same time Delgado had his brief music career in 2006, John Faso was working as a lobbyist at a law firm that was subsequently banned for 5-years from the NY State’s public pension fund due to pay-to-play investigations.

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