Kerry Picket | The Washington Times
Conservatives including Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Alaska Republican governor Sarah Palin were critical of the White House for inviting the rapper Common to perform at the White House on Wednesday.
"Common is a pretty peaceful loving poet. A poet’s job is to say things people think, even if you don’t like it. That’s their job," said Def Jams Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons," when I interviewed him on Tuesday about his recent meeting with Donald Trump.
Mr. Simmons defended not only Common but other rappers in the music community, like Snoop Dogggy Dogg. The hip hop mogul noted he sent rappers from his Def Poetry Jam to the White House during the last Bush administration saying, "They didn’t say nothing when I sent the Def Poetry Jam during George Bush’s administration." He added, "There’s nothing that Common could say that was more critical of the U.S. government than all the poets of my Broadway show. It won a Tony."
"Every rapper that’s famous is less gangster, less homophobic, less racist, and less sexist than Sean Hannity. I like him [Hannity], but that’s what I’m saying about the rappers I know," said Mr. Simmons. "Snoop Dogg is less sexist than [Hannity]. Snoop Dogg is less racist than him. Snoop Dogg is less homophobic than him and Snoop Dogg is a lot less gangster than him. So Sean Hannity has to handle his own business. He’s got his own issues." Mr. Simmons said.
He added, "All that is are songs that talk about police brutality in a kind of poetic way and say mean things. They promote dialogue. Poets always create controversy by saying what people think.They’re less sexist. They’re less homophobic. They’re less racist and they’re certainly less gangster than Sean Hannity...all of them rappers. So I ain’t thinking about him."
Mr. Simmons took back his "racist" accusation of the Fox News host later telling me, "I shouldn’t have been so mean. I really do like Sean Hannity. He’s a nice guy, but he’s more gangster, more homophobic, more racist...I shouldn’t say racist. He has more race issues." He continued, "He’s more homophobic ,for sure. And he’s more sexist and he’s more gangster than Snoop Dogg."
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama found themselves embroiled in a controversy involving the rapper "Common" (AKA Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) who is scheduled to entertain the White House on poetry night Wednesday. The Daily Caller reported:
First Lady Michelle Obama has scheduled a poetry evening for Wednesday, and she’s invited several poets, including a successful Chicago poet and rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA “Common.” However, Lynn is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.
Back in 2003, First Lady Laura Bush held a poetry evening, and she invited several poets to reprise the work of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. Although none of those poets had urged violence against a president, Bush canceled the event after left-of-center poets protested and threatened to disrupt the event.
"Common’s a really sweet guy and we sent the Def Poetry Jam poets to the poetry show for the White House before and a lot of those people were more critical of government and foreign policy and other things and that’s the American thing," Mr. Simmons explained. "That’s what poets are there for. Poets are supposed to say what people are thinking. Sometimes it’s just everything from George Bush don’t like white people or black people to whatever. It’s just a poetic thing. It’s what people are thinking."
Mr. Simmons met with (h/t Global Grind) New York City real estate leader Donald Trump recently. The Def Jams executive described the meeting, which also included Rabbi Marc Schneier and New York's Islamic Cultural Center's Imam Shamsi Ali.
"We went to Donald’s office, because the rabbi wanted to and Donald’s very accommodating. We had a good time, and they learned a lot. Hopefully we can get [Trump] to be a big voice for tolerance." Mr. Simmons stressed he remains a "big fan" of President Obama. "I’m going to break my neck to get him elected. He’s done a lot of good work in a short period of time."