House races

Rangel rap urges voters to turn out for Harlem’s ‘Original Gangster’

Alexandra Jaffe

Facing the toughest reelection fight of his career against primary challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has turned to unconventional measures to get out the vote ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

{mosads}He’s seen as vulnerable in part because of his age and long tenure in office, but the congressman has taken steps — quite literally, at times, dance steps — to dispel any notion that he’s unhip or out of touch.

This weekend, he danced to the “Wobble” after being endorsed by a founding member of the Fugees at an event that also featured a customized rap about the congressman.

And now his campaign is driving a sound truck around the district, blasting a trap-style rap written by a supporter telling Harlem voters “if you go and vote, you go and vote for the Rangel.”

The 3-minute-long rap features autobiographical details — one lyric explains that “at 16 he worked a lotta low-paying jobs so he knows what means just to be poor” — and anthemic endorsements, like the lyric that calls him “a stand-up guy … he’s super fly, if you Democrat, that’s the guy” and “the [Original Gangster] next to my pop.”

Rangel’s base of support is in predominantly black Harlem, and he’s kicked his get-out-the-vote efforts in the area into high gear. 

The Dominican-born Espaillat is counting on the Hispanic population, which now makes up a slight majority of the district and is consolidated in the center and northern parts of the district, to turn out after falling just over 1,000 votes short against Rangel in 2012. 

A poll out last week showed Rangel with a double-digit lead, but the outcome of the expected low-turnout election is difficult to predict. 

Tags 2014 House races Adriano Espaillat Charlie Rangel NY-13

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