Common has performed in front of audiences around the world for years, but last night when the rapper entered the “People’s House” it felt like every eye in the country was on him. And after days of controversy surrounding his invite to the White House celebration of poetry and prose, the Chicago rapper responded to the critics by doing what he does best: speaking through his flow.
Taking the stage in a beige suit, Common respectfully started simply with, “Thank you and God bless. I appreciate being here,” and then began his poem.
“I woke up with the sunshine. A sunshine I had never seen.
There was light at the end of it. Reminded me to forever dream.
I was dreaming I walked into the White House. With love on my sleeve.
And love for each and every one of you. Reminding you to believe. These are the words of a believer achiever.
Leader of the globe, feed the souls of those in need.
I bleed the blood of the struggle. Walking over troubled puddles.
The hustle is in my chest. No hustle no progress.
Extremities of life in this process. The birth of a son.
The death of another. With love I caress both mothers.
And told ‘em whose in control is the one that’s above is.
I walk where money talks and love stutters.
The body language of a nation. Going though changes. The young become dangerous.
Spent into anger. Anger gets sent through the chamber.
It’s tough when your own look like strangers. We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers. If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us?
Look at the picture. It’s hard not to blame us.
But time forgives in the shy where the young die often. Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them?
Is it what we talkin’, we really ain’t walking. Dudes, hustlers, paid. How much did it cost them?
I find myself on the same corner that we lost them. Real talkin’ in their ear like a walkman.
My thoughts been around the corner to the world. So when I see them I see my baby girl.
The Lord lives among us. The youngest hunger, recover.
Means to get it by anyways necessary under pressure. Children feeling lesser with the spill upon the dresser.
Killer, willer aggressors. Destiny’s children, survivors, soldiers.
In front of buildings their eyes look older. It’s hard to see blessings in a violent culture.
Face against rappings. Sirens holsters – that ‘aint the way that Langston Hughes wrote us.
So controllers on the shoulders of Moses. And Noah. We go from being precious to Oprah.
Cultivated to overcome. Ever since we came over.
Seize the day in the way that you can see the determined. The soul that keeps burning. Shorty’s know to keep learning. Lessons in my life are like stripes that we earning.
I took Grant’s advice that Christ is returning. Like a thief in the night. I write for beacons of light.
For those of us in dark alleys and park valleys. Street hits spark valleys of the conscience. Conquerors of a contest . Even the unseen know that God watches.
For one King’s dream he was able to Barack us.
One King’s dream he was able to Barack us.
One King’s dream he was able to Barack us.”
Well done, Common. Well Done.