Common's not an MC who subsides on beef. In fact he sports the opposite stereotype, and is more likely to trade noodle recipes with Mos Def than shots and insults with the boorish likes of Jim Jones. Common had a skirmish way back with Ice Cube – resulting in the legendary Pete Rock-produced dis track “The Bitch In Yoo” – which is hilarious in retrospect since he's since become what he accused Cube of being. But for the most part it's been a vegetarian career for Chicago's exalted prince of consciousness.
Until now. Since the recent announcement that Common was invited, along with other vocal artists, by First Lady Michelle Obama for a White House poetry reading tomorrow, a number of conservative assbags have attempted to embarrass the administration. Tucker Carlson, whose b-boy aspirations never quite panned out the way he'd hoped, cherry-picked some Common lines to blast on the Daily Caller. Sarah Palin, who used to rap under the name PMS-One, stepped in the arena too, tweeting something far too offensive to re-print here.
Matt Drudge and Fox News are also on the case, running the hilarious headline “Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper At White House?” And by the end of today, this is sure to be a major non-issue, aired out on talk radio and cable news shows from the South Side to Wasilla (the Atlantic actually made some good sense of it already). But what they're all missing are the similarities between Common and his white adversaries. This revolutionary has a conservative streak, as one of the biggest single of his career, “Retrospect for Life” with Lauryn Hill, may be the most mainstream anti-abortion anthem of all-time.
So while this spat continues to unfold, I just hope that Common, Palin, and all the bigots on the Fox News comment threads stop and celebrate their likenesses. I'm not sure how Republicans feel about abortions in the black community – perhaps they're pro-choice in those circumstances – but I think there's room to build here. Common was probably right in his Twitter retort, “So apparently Sarah Palin and Fox News doesn't like me.” But until they sit down at the same table and discuss how life starts at conception, I can't help but think this is a big misunderstanding.