Michelle Obama is currently under fire for inviting rapper-actor Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., to the White House to take part in a celebration of American poetry scheduled for Wednesday, May 11.
So what’s wrong with that?
Well, here’s the rub: Common’s lyrics in the past — in an effort to vocalize the struggles of the black man — have included gun advocacy, threats of violence against law enforcement, and torching then-President George W. Bush.
Common has been hailed by African Americans as a “conscious” rapper, because he builds up black people in his lyrics, but what may be considered consciousness to us may be violent and divisive rhetoric to others.
Here are lyrics (transcribed from the attached video) that he wrote in 2007:
A Letter to the Law
Dem boy wanna talk…
Whatcha gon do if ya got one gun?
I sing a song for the hero unsung
with faces on the mural of the revolution
No looking back cos’ in back is what’s done
Tell the preacher, god got more than one son
Tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton
I walk like a warrior,
from them I won’t run
On the streets, they try to beat us like a drum
In Cincinnati, another brother hung
A guinea won’t see the sun
with his family stung
They want us to hold justice
but you handed me none
The same they did to Kobe and Michael Jackson
make them the main attraction
Turn around and attack them
Black gem in the rough
You’re rugged enough
Use your mind and nine-power, get the government touch
Them boys chat-chat on how him pop gun
I got the black strap to make the cops run
They watching me, I’m watching them
Them d— boys got a lock of c— in them
My people on the block got a lot of pok* in them
and when we roll together
we be rocking them to sleep
No time for that, because there’s things to be done
Stay true to what I do so the youth dream come
from project building
Seeing a fiend being hung
With that happening, why they messing with Saddam?
Burn a Bush cos’ 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
The government’s a g-unit and they might buck young black people
Black people In the urban area one
I hold up a peace sign, but I carry a gun.
Common will perform with Elizabeth Alexander, Aimee Mann, Jill Scott, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Bill Collins and Rita Dove. Should he be allowed to participate in view of his controversial “poetry?” Answer by taking the poll.