If Florida Rep. Trey Radel will be remembered for anything, it’ll be this: doing even more damage to hip-hop’s image than Macklemore. Elected in 2012 to a safe Republican seat, Radel quickly made a name for himself as the “hip-hop conservative.” A reporter who asked nicely could get a sit-down interview or a walk-and-talk about the music’s history and its relevance to Republican politics. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” he told NowThisNews, was basically a “conservative” song about “overbearing government.” This was probably the first time anyone had ever described a song that starts with a Malcolm X sample and dismisses the white icons of American history as “400 years of rednecks” as “conservative.”
Radel was having fun, trying to invert the associations and stereotypes of hip-hop to sell his happy-conservatism message. Alas—now he’s resigning from Congress, three months after a cocaine bust, a few weeks after an “apology tour” of the Capitol. History will record that the Republican congressman who was cool enough to listen to Big Daddy Kane was quickly undone by drug use.