4:00pm PT by Colin Stutz
Senator Marco Rubio Defends Tupac's Legacy, Says Lil Wayne 'Is All About Making Money'
Lil Wayne's claim that he's the new Tupac Shakur has left hip-hop purists skeptical, including Florida's Republican Junior Senator Marco Rubio.
Prodded by TMZ to respond to the rapper's recent statement, "I ain't 2Pac, I'm the new 'Pac" -- which many have taken to mean that Wayne is claiming to be greater than the rap icon -- Rubio replied, "There is only one Tupac."
"It's a different time," said the senator. "These guys have some message in what they're saying, but I think they're largely entertainers. I think Tupac was more someone who was trying to inform us about what was going on, and he did it through entertainment. So it's just a different time. They're all good, though."
Turns out Rubio is a bit of a hip-hop head. Speaking later on TMZ Live, he elaborated on his love for Tupac and explained that his knowledge of hip-hop came from growing up around it.
"That's kind of where I live ... That's who I am," he said. "Tupac is someone I listened to growing up, and he was a complicated person. He wasn't perfect, that's for sure. He made a lot of mistakes, but I think he was very honest in his music and gave us insight into a time in our country and really gave a voice to a people in America at that time who were facing different struggles ... He made a lot of mistakes, that's for sure, but he was very real in a way you don't see today."
Rubio also joked, "I'm the only member of the hip-hop caucus in the Senate."
In response to Lil Wayne specifically, Rubio elaborated on the difference between the two rappers' work. With Wayne, he said, "It's all about money ... or how much he's making. Tupac actually grew up. Every year that went by, his music got deeper and more introspective ... Lil Wayne isn't putting anything out there like that. And he may, he could, he obviously has talent, but that's not the direction he decided to go."
Rubio also spoke favorably about Jay-Z and Kanye West, and when asked the big question -- Tupac or Notorious B.I.G.? -- he responded, "That's not even close ... Biggie was fine. He was all right. He wasn't Tupac. Tupac was very unique."