Common has never been seen as a particularly controversial hip-hop artist, but his recent invitation to the White House has caused the right-wing perpetual outrage machine to kick into high gear. After the Chicago rapper was invited to a poetry event Wednesday night at the White House organized by Michelle Obama, Fox News labeled him a “vile rapper” on their website. But as Media Matters points out, Fox didn’t always feel that way: In a 2009 interview, a Fox News reporter told Common, “Your music is very positive…you’re known as the conscious rapper.”
At issue is a 2007 rap-poem by Common called “A Letter To The Law” in which he wrote, “Why they messing with Saddam? Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he push no button.” The brouhaha began when Tucker Carlson’s conservative website the Daily Caller transcribed Common’s work and mocked his intelligence, with blogger Neil Munro writing, “You’ll get extra credit for counting death threats. There is no extra credit of identifying spelling errors.”
Then, Sarah Palin posted the Daily Caller’s link on her Twitter account, and sarcastically wrote: “Oh lovely, White House.”
Predictably, right-wing blogs like Pajamas Media then jumped on the issue, calling out Common for his association with Obama’s former pastor Reverend Wright: “Some of Common’s poetry could also raise some eyebrows among those who might find cop-killing and racially-tinged or misogynist language beneath the Office of the Presidency.”
Common has wisely stayed out of the fray, simply Tweeting, “So apparently Sarah Palin and Fox News doesn’t like me,” and the White House also hasn’t commented.