Chicago rapper and actor Common has found himself a suddenly hot target of Fox News and other known conservative figureheads as a result of an invitation from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama to a White House poetry event that takes place tonight at 7PM EST that will stream live from the White House’s website.
What has Fox News and other talking heads such as former President Bush’s deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and one-time vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin dragging Common over the coals is a 2007 Def Poetry Jam appearance by the rapper where he utters the lines “Why they messing with Saddam/ Burn a Bush because for peace he no push no button” – which moved Rove to declare Common a “thug” and saying that the invitation of the rapper is “offensive” to the American public and could potentially undermine President’s Obama’s call for national unity.
Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., Common is one of hip hop’s most celebrated and beloved acts. A known activist and philanthropist, Common has used his fame and notoriety for a number of causes, including HIV/AIDS awareness and supporting literacy programs and organizations such as PETA. Common’s music has spanned over a variety of topics over the course of his nearly 20-year career and is widely regarded as a socially conscious and culturally poignant artist.
However, Fox News and their attack of Common have dredged up lyrics from Common’s past work, which has a lot of people on the right upset with him. Additionally, a group of New Jersey cops are also angry about the rapper’s involvement in tonight’s spoken word festivities due to Common’s track “A Song For Assata” which was a tribute to the legacy of the exiled step-aunt of Tupac Shakur, Assata. Shakur has been living in exile in Cuba since 1984 after a prison escape in 1979 due to a conviction of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster.
Fox News has gone after rappers that the media outfit has deemed controversial before. Host of Fox show The O’Reilly Factor Bill O’Reilly has had whole shows devoted to defaming rappers such as Cam’Ron, Nas, Jay-Z and Ludacris – although O’Reilly and Ludacris patched up their feud in March of last year. Hip hop music has been a target of the conservative Right for years but it is rarely reported by Fox or other networks the flipside to the so-called violent undertones of hip hop music.
Chicago native and First Lady Michele Obama began the White House Music Series in 2009 and has featured many notables in entertainment and poetry, including revered actor James Earl Jones. The series has focused on many of America’s great cultural and iconic movements such as Jazz, poetry, Classical and other genres.