Common and Andra Day united for a moving, socially conscious performance of “Stand Up for Something” at the 90th Academy Awards Sunday. The rapper and singer partnered with acclaimed songwriter Dianne Warren to write the Oscar-nominated track for Reginald Hudlin’s Thurgood Marshall biopic, Marshall.
Dave Chappelle introduced the duo with a heartfelt salute to Justice Marshall, a “true Civil Rights legend and a personal hero of mine,” along with other Americans who “abandon comfortable circumstances and take on issues bigger than themselves.”
“That is a thankless, thankless job to take on,” he added. “You never see someone in a car you want, like, ‘Damn, where you get that car from?’ ‘I’ve been killing in activism.'”
Common opened the performance with a moving spoken word piece blasting the NRA and honoring the survivors of the Parkland shooting. “On Oscar night, this is the dream we tell/ A land where dreamers live and freedom dwells,” he rhymed. “Immigrants get the benefits; we put up monuments for the feminists/ Tell the NRA they in God’s way.” Day then commanded the track with dazzling vocal runs, crooning on a dark stage illuminated by spotlights.
“Stand Up for Something” will compete for the Best Original Song Oscar against “Remember Me” from Coco, “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name and Mary J. Blige’s “Mighty River” from Mudbound.” The song marks Day’s first Oscar nomination and Common’s second. The rapper previously won the Best Original Song category in 2015 for his collaboration with John Legend, “Glory,” from Ava DuVernay’s Selma.
Day’s debut studio album, Cheers to the Fall, arrived in 2015, while Common released his last solo album, Black America Again, in 2016. On March 9th, his new supergroup with pianist Robert Glasper and drummer Karriem Riggins, August Greene, will release their self-titled debut.