Peace in the Arts: Common

Here’s a guy who’s gotten a lot of attention lately.  Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., otherwise known by his stage name Common, is a rap artist and actor out of Chicago, whose lyrics have often called for an end to ghetto violence as well as a change in our generation.  He’s done work with many like-minded artists such as John Legend, The Roots, Erykah Badu, and Afrika Bambaataa. I can imagine not many of you are into hip-hop, but follow me on this one.

Common is an artist who seeks to end violence through his artwork and his voice.  He’s spoken up for multiple political movements, including veganism, HIV/AIDS, and pledged to never again use anti-gay lyrics in his songs.  He speaks to the youth of the inner cities, as well as to the rest of the world, about working for a more positive outlook in life and liberating oneself from stereotypes about violence and materialism.   His work on the album Electric Circus characterized an atypical hip-hop album, breaking boundaries surrounding usual music and lyrics featured in hip-hop albums.

Recently, for his work as an artist, Michelle Obama sought to recognize his work as part of a slam poetry night held at the White House. This drew heavy criticism from many news networks, particularly Fox News, who criticized Common for his support of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Olugbala Shakur, both accused of killing police officers in Philadelphia and on the New Jersey Turnpike, respectively.  Common believes that they were accused without enough evidence to convict them, and wrote songs in support of their plights.  The White House Press Secretary did release a statement that President Obama did not support the songs in question, but supported Common as an individual, saying that focusing on two songs misrepresents what Common stands for overall.

My recommendation: check out his work with the Soulquarians and the album Electric Circus.  These works make you want to dance and save the world.  Ignore the naysayers at Fox News and CNN; they’re really taking him out of context and missing the true message that rappers like Common have.  So go check him out and dance to the new revolution.

Because a revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having. :)

Disclaimer: Common does have some explicit lyrics and subject matter that may make you uncomfortable, so if you’re squeamish with cussing, proceed with caution. The author of this blog would like you to know, however, that he does not have qualms with such language and only looks to the inherent message within and the artist’s ability to communicate said message to their audience.


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