Faso rap on Delgado may fall flat in the 19th
Posted July 12, 2018 7:29 a.m. EDT
ALBANY, N.Y. _ Opinions of John Faso vary, but on this we can all agree: Nobody has ever wanted to hear the Republican congressman rap. Nor is it likely that he would.
"My musical tastes lean more toward Ella Fitzgerald," Faso told me.
Still, ever since it became known that Faso's opponent in the much-watched 19th Congressional District would be the man formerly known as "AD the Voice" _ that's Antonio Delgado, raised in Schenectady and Guilderland _ I've been imagining a scenario in which a debate between the candidates becomes a rap battle, like in "8 Mile."
"I'm John Faso and I'm on the mic, let's tell this Delgado guy to take a hike!"
Or something like that.
The race in the 19th will be intense and fascinating. The swing district, bigger than Connecticut, went for Barack Obama twice before flipping to Donald Trump when Faso was on the ballot. Which way will it go now, two years into the Trump presidency? The answer may decide whether Democrats capture the House.
For sure, Delgado's career as a hip-hop artist in the mid-2000s is a small part of his impressive resume. After Bishop Gibbons High, he went to Colgate University, was a Rhodes scholar and graduated from Harvard Law. Delgado is also in the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame, so nobody can claim he isn't well-rounded.
But fair or not, Delgado's time as a rapper is getting attention at the moment, thanks to the New York Post, and I would not be at all surprised if some of his more provocative lyrics are featured in several of the gazillion commercials that will soon blanket our airwaves. (This would be a good time to take Edward Abbey's advice and kick in your Tee Vee.)
I spent time listening to AD the Voice on Spotify this week, and, for sure, the music includes rough language and frequent use of the n-word _ lyrics Faso describes as "very troubling and offensive." Delgado also goes to some regrettable places, like when he raps about "his infatuation with self love, i.e. masturbation."
On the other hand, Delgado's music is also A.) surprisingly good, even catchy and B.) politically provocative in the best hip-hop tradition. In fact, the most effective knock on Delgado's music might be that he rapped so convincingly about the evils of imperialistic capitalism only to subsequently take a job as a lawyer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a high-powered legal and lobbying firm.
As my colleague Chris Bragg reported, Delgado's list of clients included Apollo Global Management, a leveraged buyout specialist with a history of being bad for workers. Just ask the folks who were on the picket line last year at Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford.
To judge by his legal career alone, Delgado would seem to have more in common with Mitt Romney than Bernie Sanders, which helps explain why Matt Taibbi's four-part Rolling Stone series on the seven-way primary in the 19th depicted him as the corporate candidate. He was also the best-financed candidate, with Akin Gump employees his biggest contributors.
But when I talked to Delgado shortly after he won the race, his message was focused on economic populism, albeit a more cautious one than what's being delivered by the party's new wave of Democratic Socialists. He highlighted his family's rise from working class to middle class, from rough sections of Schenectady to their newly built home in suburbia. The notion that hard work pays off, he said, is key to his idea of America.
"We've gotten a long way from that," Delgado said. "The government forgot about working folks."
Delgado, 41, moved from New Jersey to the 19th _ Rhinebeck, specifically _ early in 2017, a fact that may provide Faso with a potent line of attack. The last two Democrats defeated in the district, Zephyr Teachout and Sean Eldridge, were also newcomers from metro New York who arrived with their possessions wrapped in metaphorical carpets.
"To move to the district and immediately say, 'I'm here to represent you,' is presumptuous," Faso said. "That leaves a bad taste in people's mouths."
Readers with long memories will remember that Faso, originally from Long Island, hadn't lived in Kinderhook long before he won an Assembly seat in 1986. And at a time when politics have become nationalized, it is likely that length of residency will matter less to voters in the 19th this time around. The race could just be a referendum on Trump.
I think AD the Voice put it best when he rapped: "What is life without unanswered questions, foolish transgressions and human imperfections? It's a pointless lesson and an empty confession."
Actually, I have no idea what that means, but it sure sounds good.
cchurchill(at)timesunion.com - 518-454-5442 - Twitter: (at)chris_churchill
Contact columnist Chris Churchill at 518-454-5700 or email cchurchill(at)timesunion.com
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