Maxine Waters has always defended rap music.
Long-serving California representative Maxine Waters told The Breakfast Club that Tupac was her favorite rapper of all time. In an interview on August 7th, the veteran legislator said that Tupac’s song “Dear Mama” proved to her that the late rapper was someone worth paying attention to.
“That really struck me as somebody who not only was brilliant and smart and all of that, but had a real sensibility and a heart and an understanding that a lot of people don’t have,” she told the hosts. “Tupac for me was very special and he was smart and I just… I loved him.”
No Fair-weather Fan
Waters famously defended hip hop during the time before it became the lingua franca of pop music. When it was still viewed as a scary outside force spreading tales of violence and crime, Waters defended the music in hearings on Capitol Hill.
“I was one of the defenders of rap music even when it was gangster music because I thought it was creative and I thought that it opened up a whole new economic opportunity for black people where jobs and positions were created when they wouldn’t play rap music on some of the major stations,” she told the hosts.
Her Tupac fandom wasn’t the only thing that made her stand up for rap. Waters said her defense of the genre was part of a larger crusade against censorship of all kinds.
“When you have people who are willing to challenge the establishment, that is potentially dangerous for the establishment, so no, I don’t believe in censorship,” she said.
Though it was many years ago, her passion for defending the rights of artists to create art has not waned. Reports of her defense of rap on Capitol Hill show that she’s still standing by the same rhetoric decades later.
“It would be a foolhardy mistake to single out poets as the cause of America’s problems,” she said then, according to the Los Angeles Times. “These are our children and they’ve invented a new art form to describe their pains, fears and frustrations with us as adults. Just because we don’t like the symbols they use or the way they look, we should not allow that to cause us to embark on a course of censorship.”
It’s worth noting that a good portion of Waters district is in South Central Los Angeles, the epicenter of the gangsta rap explosion. So when she defended hard-nose rap, she was really speaking for her constituents.
Back in 2017, Waters also has a suggestion for would-be censorers who worry about their children hearing vulgar or violent lyrics.
“Don’t listen to it,” she said. “What you don’t want your kids to hear or see, shut it down. But when you start to talk about limiting voices and opinions, I think that’s dangerous.”