Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Duke vs. Common (sense)

Less than a week after the Duke Chronicle reported Common as the opening act for the school’s “Last Day Of Classes” concert to be held April 25, students and organizers are reconsidering Common’s involvement.

Despite an already questionable “opening act” position for Common (he has won Grammys and has six albums under his belt, compared to headliner Jason Mraz’s limited catalogue) and an apparent ignorance to Common’s music or message amongst the Duke community, many are now calling for his head because of comments he made almost a year ago at an Emory show. The Duke Chronicle story says his freestyle, a staple of his performance that is tailor-made to each city he is performing in, criticized the Duke Lacrosse team, a side popular in April 2006 when the case was still new and many, both in Duke and around the country, falsely assumed the team was guilty of raping a stripper.

What is most troubling though, are comments left on the Duke Chronicle’s web site. It seems many, completely ignorant of Common’s music, are suggesting (and even outright declaring) that he is a racist and sexist based on an obscure freestyle, and irrelevant lyrics from his little-heard 1992 debut, Can I Borrow A Dollar?

It’s sad that some of the Duke community is acting in such an uninformed light and trashing Common and his music without knowing much about it. Common has spent more than a decade as one of the positive driving forces in a continually degrading hip-hop scene. He continuously touches on topics of social, racial, sexual, religious and cultural issues, and matches it with innovative songwriting and musical backing. He also publicly backs causes such as AIDS education and animal rights.

Hopefully the Duke community smartens up and realizes they are just as guilty as Common. Common made some uninformed comments, but the Duke community is doing the same by judging and bashing (with very little basis) a talented artist, actor and activist.


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