Angelou’s Respect for Common Rises Above ‘N-word’ Controversy

Even if rapper Common ruffled Maya Angelou’s feathers by mentioning the “N-word” on a new track he got her to read some of her poetry on, the 83-year-old author stressed during a telephone interview on BET’s “106 & Park” Monday that she’s not mad at him.

In fact, she supported her stance with the words of another famous writer: Machiavelli.

“He said, if you want to control the people, separate them — you can rule them,” she said, paraphrasing. “I will not be divided from Common by anybody’s imagination.”

Although the New York Post reported Sunday that she said she felt “surprised and disappointed” after hearing his song “The Dreamer,” she’s apparently revised her opinion.

“I don’t think the word ‘disappointment’ quite makes it — I was surprised,” she said. “I know Common is brilliant. He may, in fact, be close enough to be called a genius.”

When Common turned up on WQHT-FM during “The Angie Martinez Show” Monday, he maintained that while Angelou’s never condoned his usage of the “N-word,” he still has her blessing.

“She definitely doesn’t like the ‘N-word,’ but I expressed to her before that I used it so we were able to agree to disagree,” he said. “It’s a great thing, because she knows that sometimes, writers coming from different angles can separate good people, and it’s like, no, that ain’t happening. We ain’t gonna let you separate us.”

Common’s “The Dreamer/The Believer” album hit stores Tuesday.

About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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