Maya Angelou might have been pretty excited when rapper Common asked her to contribute a poem to his new album, The Dreamer, The Believer. "I’ve still got it," she probably boasted, excited that a new generation of poetry fans would hear her smooth, sultry voice spittin’ some rhymes on a hot new track. But after hearing the "The Dreamer," the song on which her verses are featured, Angelou wasn’t too happy with Common’s liberal use of a certain racial epithet.
The New York Post reports:
It urges people to follow their dreams, with such lines as “From Africa they lay in the bilge of slave ships / And stood half naked on auction blocks /. . . and still they dreamed.” Common’s lyrics, however, include such lines as “Told my n—a [Kanye West] I’m ’bout to win the Grammys now” and the boast “N—as with no heart, I’m the pacemaker.”
The Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet was petrified when she heard the lyrics.
“I had no idea that Common was using the piece we had done together on [a track] in which he also used the ‘N’ word numerous times,” Angelou said.
Angelou said she never knew Common used the “N” bomb at all, calling it “vulgar and dangerous” to the black community.
Considering that the pair are BFFs, Common was a bit shocked at Angelou’s comments, claiming that she knew how often he dropped the word. You’d think that she would be pretty familiar with his oeuvre, after all, as they’ve been "tight" (the Post‘s term, not mine) for the last two years. "Since then, the two have grown tight. He has rapped at her birthday bash, and she once said he could be her son."
Common seems to be taking the poet’s remarks in stride, ultimately admitting that the song has a positive message about accomplishing one’s dreams. Can Angelou really find fault in that? Of course, she has yet to comment on Common’s dreams, which include, per the song’s lyrics, "living in Miami with ‘exquisite thick bitches.’"