×

Hip hop artist Common has won multiple Grammys, he’s collaborated with the Jonas Brothers and he’s appeared in a Gap ad.

But conservative media today is all over his planned appearance on Wednesday at a special White House evening of poetry.

They cite lyrics from some of his works, including a lyric from a 2007 video in which he recites, Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button. A story in the Daily Caller early on Tuesday almost immediately triggered an outcry from a bevy of conservative talkers and pundits, including Sarah Palin who wrote in a Tweet, “Oh lovely, White House.”

In citing other lyrics from other works, Pajamas Media also noted Common’s connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Obama’s former pastor at a south Chicago church whose controversial comments became a flash point of the 2008 campaign.

A spokeswoman for First Lady Michelle Obama, who has held a series of White House events to promote the arts, did not immediately respond for comment.

But Common has. In a series of Twitter comments in which he seemed amused by the whole affair. In response to one message that Fox News had called him a “vile rapper,” he wrote, “You aint scared of me?”

While Common is well, pretty commonly mainstream when stacked up against so many other hip hop artists, there is some history of poetry creating controversy. In 2003, First Lady Laura Bush cancelled a planned reading of the works of Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson after protests from several poets over the administration’s plans to invade Iraq.

Much ado? As Conor Friedersdorf writes on The Atlantic, there’s a long history of occupants of the Oval Office, from both parties, embracing music of bawdiness, violence and even cannibalism. The artists responsible will surprise you.

Update: Media Matters, the progressive media watchdog group, dug up an interview on FoxNews.com in which a reporter told Common that his music was “very positive.”

There’s also a sharp exchange at Common’s Facebook page, and Jason Linkins of Huffington Post puts the lyrics to the controversial work, called “Letter to the Law,” in context.

This should draw more viewers to Wednesday night’s event — and to the work of another performer on the bill, Steve Martin.