I was kinda expecting hip-hop to be playing in here today.
Aw, sh—. It’s on my, uh, computer there. I haven’t pulled it up yet, but I’ll get a little bit goin’ in a second or two.
Who do you listen to?
I actually listen to a cross section, because I like to hear what the medium is saying, what the voice is.
But do you have a favorite?
P. Diddy I enjoy quite a bit.
Do you want to rethink that?
[laughs] I guess I’m sorta old-school that way. Remember, I came of age with the DJ and all this other stuff, so I’m also loving Grandmaster Flash, and that’s not hip-hop, but… Um, you know, I like Chuck D. And I always thought Snoop Dogg was—he just reminded me of the fellas back home. So I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed him.
I like Sinatra. I like old-school. You know, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin. Love Dean Martin. He was one of these guys who just didn’t give an F. He just didn’t. Life was a party, and you either want to party or you don’t. But yeah, I like those. I’m a big Pack Rat. I love the Pack Rats from the 1950s—Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, those guys.
You mean the Rat Pack.
The Rat Pack, yeah.
Okay, so tell me about this hip-hop plan of yours.
Well, I have to admit, I’m rather amused. It was a conversation I had with a Washington Times reporter, and we were talking about the breadth and depth of the reach that I would try to bring to the party. And I told him, everybody’s in play. I want to reach everybody; I want to touch everybody. I think we have a very strong and powerful message to deliver. The urban community is a center for economic activity. It always has been, particularly in the black community. We are very much an entrepreneurial people, and I think the Republican message is one that speaks directly to that. It’s self-empowerment, it’s ownership, it’s opportunity. And hip-hop—I used hip-hop more as a symbolic term. I know some people started going a little nuts about “Oh, well, you know, they’re misogynists!” And some call them urban terrorists, which I think is an offensive term. But you know, they miss the point of what hip-hop is. Hip-hop is about economic empowerment. You’re talking about a generation of men from, you know, P. Diddy to Russell Simmons and the like who have created empire from their talent. Russell Simmons has empire. His reach is beyond hip-hop.
You’re not gonna convert Russell Simmons, though.
I’m not trying to convert anybody. If I wanted to convert somebody, I’d have kept my collar on, as a monk. What I’m trying to do is to inform. I have enough respect for people that they can make their own decisions. I just want to be in a situation where every time they’re not against me.