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Common’s White House Performance Draws Criticism

J.D. Pooley, Getty Images

Hip-hop will invade the White House, as rapper Common has just been announced as one of the performers at the celebration honoring American poetry Wednesday (May 11). The Chicago native will join the likes of Jill Scott, Elizabeth Alexander and Alison Knowles for the poetry-inspired day.

The event, which will be hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, also includes an afternoon workshop for students. Common will participate in the workshop before performing later in the evening.

His appearance is causing controversy among some right-winged political websites who have written his rhymes off as being riddled with violence, even labeling him a “gangster rapper.”

Republican website Fox News Nation called the rapper, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, “vile,” citing lyrics from one of his poems, ‘A Letter to the Law,’ as evidence. In the piece, which he performed on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam back in 2007, Common addresses the conditions in poverty-stricken communities, and police brutality as it relates to America’s political climate. Among the most controversial lines in the poem, is when he slams former President Bush and questions the motive behind the war in the Middle East.

“With that happening, why they messing with Saddam? 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?” he raps.

Common doesn’t seem too moved by the fodder surrounding his appearance, which he found out about via Twitter. “So apparently Sarah Palin and Fox News doesn’t like me,” he wrote to CNN political analyst Roland Martin. He also urged his followers to post links to websites that are taking issue with his involvement in the event.

Controversy aside, the White House event will move forward with the American poetry celebration as planned.


Watch Common Perform ‘The Light’ at Yahoo Live
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