First things first. Click on this link to go watch the video for “Be” by Common.
It’s important to call out ignorance, so Emily Esfahani Smith doesn’t get a free pass for calling Common a “controversial rapper known for misogynistic, cop-killing lyrics.” Common probably isn’t that controversial to most people familiar with his music, and he isn’t known for misogyny or violent lyrics. Pick a Common album…any of them…and you’ll realize that tracks like this one are a far more important part of Common’s body of work.
Smith tries to play the Jeremiah Wright card, which is certainly code that readers of The Blaze – Glenn Beck’s knock-off Huffington Post, which Smith contributes to – understand. Smith doesn’t cite any examples of those “misogynistic, cop-killing lyrics” in her story, which I won’t dignify with a link, but instead posts a YouTube video of an appearance Common made on Def Poetry Jam.
So since Smith didn’t post any lyrics, here’s what this song says.
I want to be as free as the spirits of those who left
I’m talking Malcom, Coltrane, my man Yusef
Through death grew conception
New breath and resurrection
For moms, new steps in her direction
In the right way
Told inside is where the fight lay
And everything a nigga do may not be what he might say
Chicago nights stay, stay on the mind
But I write many lives, they lay on these lines
Wave the signs of the times
Many say the grind’s on the mind
Shorties blunted-out and everyone wanna rhyme
Bush pushing lies, killers immortalized
We got arms but won’t reach for the skies
Waiting for the Lord to rise
I look into my daughter’s eyes
And realize I’ma learn through her
The Messiah, might even return through her
If I’ma do it, I gotta change the world through her
Furs and a Benz, gramps wanting ’em
Demons and old friends, pops they hauntin’ him
The chosen one from the land of the frozen sun
When drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones
Walk like warriors, we were never told to run
Explored the world to return to where my soul begun
Never looking back or too far in front of me
The present is a gift
and I just wanna be…
But please don’t take my word for it. Look up Common, listen to his music and make your mind up for yourself.