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Ben Carson courts black youth vote with new rap ad

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson leaves a book signing and campaign event in Ames, Iowa on October 24, 2015.

REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

Republican 2016 contender Ben Carson's campaign is out with a new radio ad Thursday targeting African American voters -- and it's taking an unorthodox musical tact with rap lyrics.

In a 60-second ad set to a hip-hop beat, Georgia-based artist Aspiring Mogul raps out: "Ben Carson 2016! Vote and support Ben Carson for our next president and be awesome."

The spot also uses some of Carson's own stump speeches in the audio track.

"America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians," Carson's voice says in the ad. "But because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, and innovation. And that's what will get us on the right track now."

The spot ends with more of Aspiring Mogul's lyrics: "If we want to get America back on track, we gotta vote Ben Carson as a matter of fact. Go out and vote!"

The $150,000 buy will air the ad for two weeks, starting Friday, in eight markets: Birmingham, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit. The Carson campaign says that it will air on various "urban radio stations."

During a book tour stop in Miami on Thursday, Carson explained to reporters the choice of rap for the ad, saying that "there are people in the campaign who felt that that was a good way to do things. And you know, they're entitled to their opinions."

"I support them in doing that but, you know, I probably would have taken a little different approach," he added.

According to Carson campaign spokesperson Doug Watts, the ad is meant as "one of several messaging objectives that we have in reaching out to other constituencies not only from a conservative Republican point of view."

Specifically for young African Americans, Watts told CBS News that the spot is an attempt at "speaking to them in a different level and a different way than Republicans have in the past."

"We know it's not of the Eminem quality or Jay-Z quality," Watts conceded, referring to the chart-topping hip hop artists. "But it's an effort to speak with this younger audience in a way that they feel we're authentically communicating."

And as for the artist prominently featured in the ad, Watts says that the campaign has had "several rap artists and other very established artists approach us and submit songs for use."

But Aspiring Mogul caught Carson's eye, long before the ad came together.

According to the artist's website, Aspiring Mogul identifies as a black conservative Christian rapper with a history of working in Georgia politics, focusing on minority engagement for the GOP state party.

In September, Carson posted to his Facebook page a Soundcloud link to the hip hop artist's song "Black Republican." Like the ad, the full song remixes various sound bites from Carson's own speeches on the campaign trail, including one where the GOP contender says that "it's not my intention to offend anyone."

"I have discovered, however, the PC [politically correct] police out in force at all times," said Carson in the song. As a candidate, the retired neurosurgeon has received criticism from some in the African American community for his controversial comments on issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, which Carson has said is engaged in "bullying" people.

In 2012, President Obama ran a similar ad targeting black audiences. In a radio spot with an R&B beat, a narrator told listeners, "Four years ago we made history. Now it's time to move forward and finish what we started together. We have to show the president we have his back."

The ad ran on nationally syndicated radio programs popular among black listeners, such as the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" and "The Steve Harvey Show."