A Controversial ‘Gangsta Rapper’? That’s Not Common.

If you haven’t heard, the latest controversy to hit President Barack Obama‘s White House was that a rapper was invited to an event honoring poetry that took place last night. No, it wasn’t Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, any of the Ices, Snoop, Dr. Dre, or even Eminem. The rapper in question was none other than Common.

Don’t worry, I scratched my head on that one, too.

After the bounce

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Of course, this “controversy” was brought to us by the talking heads of Fox News and the ever-so-annoying Sarah Palin (who, like your drunk aunt at a family reunion, simply refuses to leave the American consciousness). The whole event comes off as them purposely reading through the invitee list and then having an “a-ha!” moment when they realized that there was *gasp* a rapper on the list. They then added some dubious research to find any damning lyrics by said rapper and then stirred the pot.

The far right powers that be were quick to find fault with Common’s inclusion in the event due mostly to a poem he performed on Def Poetry Jam in 2007 (really?) entitled “Letter to the Law” and his song “Assata” in support of Assata Shakur, the former Black Panther who was convicted of killing a New Jersey cop in 1973 and then fled to Cuba after escaping from prison. In “Letter,” the rapper states “Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button.” The line, obviously not about actually burning the then president and more of an allusion to the biblical burning bush, was in protest of Bush and his wartime policies. Far be it for anyone to criticize a president or his policies, right?

Now, while I don’t expect Fox News and its followers to understand nuanced poetic concepts like metaphor and allusion, personally, I can think of way more offensive things that Common has done (like his crochet pants-era fashion choices and most of Universal Mind Control). Yet these instances do nothing to negate Common’s contributions to society — such as his work with the “Knowing Is Beautiful” HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign and his Common Ground Foundation.

Take a peek at the piece that Common ended up performing at the White House event and see if it was really worth all the hoopla.

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