The White House “Acts Stupidly”: Common, 2 Live Crew and Hip-Hop

Remember back in 2009 when Officer James Crowley arrested Harvard educator Henry Gates and Barack Obama claimed that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting the iconic Black professor?

It was after this visit to the Reagan White House that Michael Jackson decided to become white.

We do.

Recall that this is the moment that Obama’s poll numbers started slipping and ultimately was the episode that signified the honeymoon was over with white America.

Now, the Obama’s have “acted stupidly” by inviting the rapper Common to The White House. The fine folks over at the Daily Caller and Fox News got royally pissed over this; we aren’t really sure why:

Below, six facts worth keeping in mind ahead of Common’s White House appearance tonight:

1. He’s an acclaimed artist. Common has won two Grammys — best R&B song in 2003 for “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)” with Erykah Badu, and best rap performance by a duo or group in 2007 for “Southside” with Kanye West. (That song includes the line “Know when to use a Bible, and when to use a rifle.”) He’s been nominated for nine additional Grammys. He’s also an actor, with movies including “American Gangster,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Date Night” on his resume.

2. He prays. A Christian who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, Common and the Obamas shared the same pastor — Rev. Jeremiah Wright. A 2006 Newsweek profile of Common noted that he “prays before each meal.” A 2010 New York Magazine profile of Common described his pre-show ritual: “‘Lord, we know the media shows us a lot of bad things,’ says Smurf, Common’s keyboardist. … ‘But we know there’s a lot of good things, and they are all because of you. We can’t do it without you.’ Common gives an amen.”

3. Big brands covet him. Common and his music have been featured in many ad campaigns, including The Gap (2006), Lincoln Navigator (2008), and Blackberry (2011).

4. He has a literary background. Common attended Florida A&M University for two years on scholarship and majored in business administration. But he relished reading — according to a 2000 Los Angeles Times profile, he delved into the work of authors James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright in college. More recently, his mother, former school teacher Mahalia Hines, encouraged him to write three children’s books. “My mom said, ‘You’ve got to multitask,'” he told Newsweek.

5. He’s never killed anyone. He told Esquire in 2007: “I grew up in Chicago, so I’ve seen some street s**t point-blank — cats shooting at you, whoop barn boo. I’ve never killed anybody physically — maybe on the mic I have.”

The sixth fact wasn’t that interesting. Just know that CBS made you aware of the fact that Common has never killed anyone (though he grew up in the south side of Chicago, an area more violent and deadly then Iraq and Afghanistan); read Black nationalist authors at the Historically Black College he attended; and was a Token Black pitchman for companies that cater primarily to white people yet hope to find a way into the coveted Flash Mob Black demographic. That he attends Jeremiah Wright’s church makes the fact he rapped about setting George Bush on fire a-okay.

The history of hip-hop and the White House is quite interesting (learn about it here), but anytime people try and ban or censor things from occurring or people speaking then it usually backfires.

2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell credits Tipper Gore and the obscenity case in Florida against his group with helping sell hundreds of thousands of records.  Entertainment Weekly reported in 1990:

In an unprecedented legal decision, a federal judge in Florida ruled on June 6 that As Nasty as They Wanna Be, the controversial, sexually explicit rap album by the Miami-based 2 Live Crew, violated community obscenity laws. Within days, three members of the band and a local record-store owner had been arrested for their involvement in the performance and sale of the record, which has been bought by nearly 2 million people nationwide — and has jumped 29 places on the Billboard chart since the ruling.

It’s interesting to note that Campbell thanked Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (calling her his ‘home girl’) for defending his lyrics and right to express back in 1989:

Twenty years before Solicitor General Elena Kagan was uncomfortably forced to weigh in on the landmark case of Team Jacob vs. Team Edward, she defended 2 Live Crew’s incendiary 1989 album, Nasty as They Wanna Be, against obscenity charges. Arguing that the disc had “undoubted artistic value,” Kagan, then an attorney, successfully helped overturn a ban on the album. Nasty as They Wanna Be “does not physically excite anyone who hears it, much less arouse a shameful and morbid sexual response,” she wrote in a brief filed on behalf of the band, according to the New York Daily News. (Skip Gates is another prominent intellectual who argued against the obscenity charges. The group’s “exuberant use of hyperbole [phantasmagoric sexual organs, for example] undermines—for anyone fluent in black cultural codes—a too literal-minded hearing of the lyrics,” he wrote in a 1990 article in The New York Times.) Anyway, now 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell has voiced his support of Kagan in his column for the Miami New Times. He summarizes her defense of the 1989 album thusly: “In other words, my homegirl Kagan was saying people could not be aroused by the lyrics ‘cause my dick’s on bone’ or ‘me so horny, me fuck you long time.’ She realized these words did not meet the standard of appealing to prurient interests.”

Now we aren’t comparing the hilariously sophomoric and juvenile lyrics of 2 Live Crew to Common, but the debate over not inviting the latter to the White House is only going to backfire. No one really cares about Common, a dude who pissed off the New Jersey State Police because he rapped about a Black cop killer:

For New Jersey police, the outrage centers on “A Song for Assata” lyrics like “Your power and pride is beautiful. May God bless your soul.”

Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, was convicted for the 1973 slaying of Trooper Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike. She escaped prison in 1979, and is living in asylum in Cuba.

“The young people who read this stuff, hear this stuff, are getting a very dangerous and deadly message,” said David Jones, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association union.

Known for being more of a brainy poet type than a thug or a gangster, Common seemed to be amused by the dust-up Tuesday, tweeting and retweeting the various news items, such as FOX News’ description of him as a “vile rapper.” 

He also tweeted, “So apparently Sarah Palin and Fox News doesn’t like me.”

The White House appearance comes during the same week that lawmen from across the nation, including Jones, make their annual trek to Washington to honor their fallen comrades at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

Sal Maggio, a retired troop commander with the state police, said his colleagues still talk about Shakur and the million dollar bounty the FBI has put on her capture.

“Hopefully someday she’ll be caught,” Maggio said in reaction to news of this invitation.

Common, who is also a successful actor, is known as one of the most lyrically poetic rappers. Last month he appeared in Chicago for a charity event for his foundation, honoring legendary author and poet Maya Angelou.

Wait, who claims that Maya Angelou is a legendary? Angelou is only legendary because she is a Black poet. The Obama’s are going to keep “acting stupidly” and piss off normal Americans. There is no reason to get accept that they invite people who represent their world view to the White House.

What you need to understand is that The Obama’s are not like you and accept it. Back in 2010, The Washington Post published an article lamenting the fact no rappers had been invited to the White House yet. We at SBPDL believe Obama should invite as many as possible to show just who is in charge now:

Here’s proof that hip-hop is still America’s most potent and controversial pop form: Barack Obama — a leader some have dubbed the hip-hop president — has yet to have a rapper perform in the East Room.

So what’s taken President Obama so long to recognize the genre that mobilized to help get him elected?

Hip-hop was pumping out the hosannas during Obama’s trek on the 2008 campaign trail, praising him in rhyme after rhyme. Young Jeezy’s “My President” was the most compelling hit to emerge from the pack — a powerful confluence of pop hit, street anthem and rally cry. Over a triumphant beat, the Atlanta rapper gave his endorsement with a trademark roar: “Obama for mankind/We’re ready for damn change, so y’all let the man shine!”

So far, Jeezy hasn’t roared those words in the East Room. And it’s not because the administration doesn’t understand reciprocity. In June 2009, country hunk Brad Paisley released “Welcome to the Future,” a soaring tune that cites the Obama presidency as Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream manifest. A few weeks after “Welcome to the Future” hit the airwaves, Paisley was in the White House crooning it for the first family.

Meantime, Jeezy is presumably still waiting for his invitation. Ditto for Ludacris and Common — both A-list rappers who praised Obama during the campaign. And while Jay-Z made a quick and quiet visit to the White House in March, the only rap performance to take place there during Obama’s term came in spring 2009 from Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas. (And let’s be real — Will’s not a rapper so much as a walking, talking, rhyming BlackBerry commercial.)

One can assume that Obama is still tiptoeing the very thin line between embracing the hip-hop community and catering to constituents who remain dubious about rap music.

Hip-hop didn’t get Obama elected; it was Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) and white people afraid of being called ‘racist’ if they didn’t vote for Mein Obama that got him elected. Sure, 96 percent of Black people did vote for him, but they account for only 13 percent of population (and 54 percent of those are in the red states of the South).

So who cares if Common is going to the White House? Let him. This is Black-Run America (BRA) after all, and criticizing the Obama’s for “acting stupidly” is only going to Common to get more iTunes purchases for his “music.”

At some point soon, people will start demanding that the rap group Odd Future be banned. Don’t. That groups raps about rape, cannibalism and all sorts of other strange things that confirm what Ashley Jud said about the genre.

It’s our hope that Odd Future gets invited to the White House too!

Let the Obama’s continue to “act stupidly” and you’ll see their approval ratings fall even lower.



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