White House Defends Common, But Not His Old Lyrics

White House Defends Common, But Not His Old Lyrics

White House spokesman defends invitation to Common and said he is a socially conscious artist.

Published May 11, 2011

During Wednesday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney was asked to address the controversy that’s been brewing over the hip-hop artist Common’s participation in “An Evening of Poetry” that the Obamas are hosting Wednesday night to celebrate American poetry and prose. Some conservative leaders and media outlets have criticized the First Family for extending an invitation to the rapper, whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., because of a poem he wrote that contains lyrics that seemed to encourage shooting policemen and burning former president George W. Bush.


“The president does not support and opposes the kinds of lyrics that have been written about, as he has in the past. He’s spoken very forcefully against violent and misogynist lyrics,” Carney said.


But he also said that some of Lynn’s critics were simply trying to stoke a controversy. In fact, Carney cited a Fox News interview with the rapper in which he was told that his music is “very positive” and that he’s a “conscious rapper.” He was invited to participate in the event in part because of all of the work he’s done to bring poetry to children who might not otherwise experience it.


Carney added that Obama doesn’t consider the lyrics in question to be the sum total of Lynn’s work, “which has been recognized by a lot of mainstream organizations and fair and balanced organizations like Fox News.”

(Photo: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones


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