The crowded Democratic primary race for mayor is getting some attention from three hip-hop legends.
Jay-Z, Diddy and Nas - iconic artists with deep roots in New York City - are joining forces to endorse Ray McGuire.
The moguls' rags to riches story, entrepreneurship and unlikely rise to wealth is similar to that of McGuire -- a political newcomer who made his name as one the highest-ranking Black executives on Wall Street. McGuire stepped down from his post at Citigroup to launch his bid last December.
Jay-Z, Diddy and Nas announced the endorsement in a campaign video. They were joined by radio personality Angie Martinez and Steve Stoute, a veteran advertising and music industry entrepreneur. Martinez moderated the conversation but did not make an endorsement.
"The city is broken and I haven’t heard anyone say anything about it, and everything he's saying is everything I want to hear," Nas says in the video.
McGuire goes on to describe his relationship with the three artists, which he says spans decades.
"Through those 30 years, no matter where we were at, outside, wherever we were at, Ray was always talking about the people, " Diddy says in the video. "We have to realize that New York is in a state of emergency. New York could be the first city that really does something bold to take care of the people. That's why I was excited about this conversation, just knowing Ray," he added.
McGuire has little name recognition among New Yorkers and has not seen much support in the limited public polling that has been released in the race. But his campaign has attracted the attention of some of the city's celebrity class, including professional athletes, movie stars and business people. His campaign launch video was narrated by movie director Spike Lee and the soundtrack provided by Wynton Marsalis. It remains unclear what, if any, significance celebrity endorsements ever bring to a race.
Despite his lack of name recognition, McGuire has raised millions of dollars in private donations and is not participating in the city’s public matching funds program. He has sought to cast himself as a moderate who understands the need for reform in the police department while also highlighting the need for public safety and quality of life, and touting his business experience as key to a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
Both Jay-Z and Diddy cited McGuire's plan for the city's pandemic recovery as part of the reason for their endorsement. They also cited the need to return the city to the status it once enjoyed as a hub for the arts, music and entrepreneurship.
During the campaign, McGuire often talks about his rise in corporate America. The 63-year-old Dayton, Ohio native was raised by a single mother and then went on to Harvard University. McGuire has also leaned into his Wall Street background, which the campaign believes will appeal to New Yorkers looking for a mayor with management experience at a time of deep crisis.
"How I came up? I've been blessed. Our kids shouldn’t have to get lucky, but right now our kids' future depends on what zip code they come from," McGuire says.
The campaign also believes McGuire's knowledge and connections to the business sector will be seen as a positive, particularly after eight years of the de Blasio administration, which did not often publicly — or privately — embrace big business.