A spokesman for the White House has defended U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama's decision to invite Common to participate in a poetry event after the rapper was criticised for his controversial lyrics.
The Go hitmaker is among the guests invited to attend the Celebration of American Poetry bash at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday (11May11), but his addition to the line-up has sparked criticism over two of his earlier works, which appear to advocate violence.
Detractors have pinpointed lyrics from a 2007 rhyme about former Republican president George W. Bush and the War on Iraq. On the track, Common raps, "Burn a Bush 'cause for peace he no push no button/Killing over oil and grease/no weapons of destruction."
Critics have also hit out at Common for voicing his support in song for former Black Panther Assata Shakur, who was convicted of the 1973 fatal shooting of a New Jersey cop, prompting police union representatives to call for the rapper's axe from the poetry line-up.
But President Barack Obama has stood by his wife's chosen talent for the event and has addressed the situation via the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Speaking to reporters hours before Wednesday night's party, the spokesman highlighted Common's extensive charity work and his clean-cut reputation.
Carney said, "As an elected official, as an American and as a father against those kinds of lyrics, he (Obama) opposes them but he does not think that that is the sum total of this particular artist's work. It's ironic to pick out those particular lyrics about this particular artist when in fact he is known as a socially conscious hip-hop artist, a rapper who has done a lot of good things..."
Common has also spoken out about the scandal in a post on his Facebook.com page, insisting he is fully supportive of the police force.
He writes, "Politics is politics and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I respect that. The one thing that shouldn't be questioned is my support for the police officers and troops that protect us every day. Peace y'all!"