By// Quinn Peterson
If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and clearly, naysayers of the Obama administration will stop at nothing to find some perceived blemish to prey on. After endlessly and ridiculously challenging the President’s citizenship in recent weeks, conservatives are now decrying first lady Michelle Obama’s invitation to platinum-selling Chicago hip-hop artist, Common, to perform at a White House poetry program on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, erroneous allegations and misunderstanding from the masses, especially conservatives, is nothing new for hip-hop. This time, the key pundits have included Sarah Palin and Fox News, and, true to standard procedure, one line, song or verse is singled out while the rest of Common’s discography is disregarded. In this case, the controversial words come from Common’s witty poem, A Letter To The Law, in which the rapper addresses governmental abuse of power.
Critical of former President George W. Bush, he says: “burn a Bush ’cause for peace he no push no button, killing over oil and grease, no weapons of destruction, how can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one.” Ideas that have certainly crossed the minds of many.
Ironically, in many eyes, the two-time Grammy winner is the furthest thing from a stereotypical rapper — who tend to be the ones subject to this kind of controversy. Quite the opposite, Common’s considered one of hip-hop’s brightest, sharpest, most thought-provoking lyricists. After all, this is the same artist who’s been featured in Gap, Zune, and Blackberry commercials, among others, and starred in the major feature films Smokin’ Aces and Just Wright.
Moreover, he’s an avid activist for animal rights, PETA and HIV/AIDS awareness. But of course, none of that is acknowledged. Neither is his incredible imagery (Testify), beautiful odes to hip-hop culture (I Used To Love H.E.R.), or vivid accounts of life for Blacks in America (Black Maybe, The Corner).
Sad to say, this ignorant outcry should really come as no surprise. As John Legend crooned on Common’s They Say: “They say what’s happening, we say the facts and then, they lie.”
Quinn Peterson is a freelance sports and music writer based in Chicago.