Jon Stewart defends Common to Bill O’Reilly

Posted in Comedy, News, Other Peoples' Interviews, Videos on May 17th, 2011 by Hyphen

Following up on the absolutely absurd “controversy” regarding Common’s appearance at the White House, Jon sat down with O’Reilly to dispense more ether, this time face-to-face.

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The Daily Show & Soulstice on Common x White House x Faux News

Posted in Artists, Comedy, Politics, Videos on May 14th, 2011 by Hyphen

When Sound Session debuted on KUBE six years ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming Common to the studio as our first guest.  We dedicated the entire show to his music and he regaled us with behind the scenes tales about his favorite songs off each of his classic albums.  Since then, we’ve had him on the show numerous times (remember this listening party?) and run into him at all sorts of events.  Throughout all this interaction, one thing has stood out to me above even the quality of his music: this is one of the nicest “celebrities” I’ve ever met.

Common has a way of talking to you so genuinely that you know he actually cares about what you’re discussing and more importantly, he cares about you.  Honestly, it’s kind of spooky.  Years after first talking about how I coached youth basketball, he asked me out of the blue: “are you still coaching kids?”  He’s just a great dude and an excellent representative of our culture.

This is not to say he’s without flaws, but much like 2Pac, he represents the natural duality that we all share in our morals/ethics and his music always reflects what he believes, even if it’s not popular.  He’s also grown as an artist and person over the years (haven’t we all?), which makes this Fox News pseudo-controversy all the more hysterical.  If you’ve been living under a rock, Jon Stewart can get you up to speed:

Not much more needs to be said (aside from PLEASE DON’T EVER EVEN PRETEND TO RAP, JON), but rapper SoulStice summed up his thoughts nicely in a recent email:

What’s the word?

I think I’m going to need a late pass on this one. I didn’t realize that Common had been invited to perform at the White House until after Sarah Palin had already gotten on the air and poo-pooed the whole thing.

My response to Common performing lyrics as poetry at the White House is probably as predictable as Sarah Palin’s. Yay! For me, this is a form of acknowledgement by those in power that the voice of my generation as expressed through hip hop is recognized not only for its entertainment value but for its social and political relevance. Never mind that this acknowledgement comes from a President that himself struggles for acceptance as part of mainstream America.

When Sarah Palin says that Common’s body of work doesn’t withstand the scrutiny of representing “all that’s good about America,” she does have a point. Common’s third album, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)” was a very influential one for me. On “Hungry,” Common raps:

“Downtown interracial lovers hold hands,
I breathe heavy like an old man…”

At the time, I remember reflecting on those lines for a while. Although in 1997 I hadn’t yet dated outside of my race (wasn’t the coolest move to make in my segregation-minded Chicagoland high school), I knew that one of my favorite artists and I felt differently on the subject of interracial relationships. Today, as part of an interracial marriage and father to a multi-ethnic child, my view on the subject is as diametrically opposed as ever to the view expressed on “Hungry.” Hopefully Common’s is too.

So no, Common’s body of work doesn’t withstand the scrutiny of representing “all that’s good about America.” But isn’t that bar too high? I wouldn’t pass that test. For that matter, neither would Palin, Hannity, O’Reilly or any of the right-wing (or otherwise) critics of Obama’s choice to bring Common to the White House. Even removing all of moral blemishes like the “Hungry” line from Common’s catalog, it wouldn’t clear the bar that Palin has set here. As an artist, Common has chosen to shine a light on some of the things that aren’t so good about America like police brutality and racial bias in the prison system. Would it be too much to ask for Palin and others to spend some time reflecting on the hard truths in lyrics like those before rushing to shoot the messenger?

I applaud the White House for hosting Common for a performance. Even with his imperfections, I think he’s done more to uplift America than any of the aforementioned pundits whose self-serving divisiveness does more to harm our social fabric than to strengthen it. On “G.O.D.,” another song from “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” Common spit another couple of lines that have stuck with me all these years:

“Long as you know it’s a being that’s supreme to you,
and let that show towards others in the things you do”

Words to live by.

peace —


It’s one thing for Faux News to do this to other news stories, but when they go after one of the members of our community, it annoys me to no end. They really shouldn’t speak on things that they have no concept of, but I suppose that’s par for the course throughout media, not just on Fox.

As our generation gets older, it’s up to people like you, me, and SoulStice to continue to bring sanity to these “debates.” We have an obligation to push the discourse in the right direction and away from the silliness.

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Chinese government calls 7 year old girl ugly

Posted in News, Sports on August 12th, 2008 by Hyphen


(Yang Peiyi on the left, Lin Miaoke on the right. Both look adorable to me.)

I’m really enjoying the competition so far, but stories like this and the racist Spanish basketball advertisement are starting to take away from the Olympic spirit. Granted, there are also the tiiiiiiny issues of human rights abuse, pollution, and censorship that the Chinese government has failed to address, but is that really surprising? Not so much. This, however, is.

China’s made no secret that the 2008 games are their welcoming party to the table of world superpowers. To that end, they’ve controlled every last aspect of the presentation, crafting the exact image they want to project to the world. This happens everywhere – currently evident in Vancouver’s ongoing efforts to force their homeless outside of the city in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics – but it’s almost always troublesome. In this situation, the Chinese deemed a 7 year old singer named Yang Peiyi “not suitable” to perform at the opening ceremonies, even though they wanted to use her voice in a key part of the festivities. Apparently she wasn’t cute enough to represent the country on the world stage. So what to do? Simple, they found 9 year old Lin Miaoke to lip sync the song. Miaoke has since gone on to become an international celebrity, while the controversy over the decision just broke in the press. You can read the full story here.

At the moment, both girls and their families seem to be ok with the whole situation. That’s good, and I hope they continue to feel that way, but it doesn’t fix the larger problem here. The fact that a country would blatantly attack the self-esteem of one girl, and consequently, a whole generation, is appalling. China has all the tools to be a world leader, but there are certain areas where they’re failing miserably.

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Jay Smooth talks about the ludicrous Ludacris controversy

Posted in Politics, Videos on August 4th, 2008 by Hyphen

Jay Smooth drops another one of his excellent vlogs, this time commenting on the faux news story regarding Luda’s Obama freestyle a few weeks back.  As always, he’s on point.  It’s annoying to see people with no understanding of our hip-hop culture talking about it on the news, but Jay makes a great point that Luda really should know better.  There have been a bunch of less tactful Obama songs/references too, but none with as high a profile as this one.  I knew it was going to be trouble when the story broke and some agencies were calling him an actor instead of rapper.  That’s when you know you’ve made it to the next tier and your words are going to be given a lot more legitimacy, right or wrong.

As further proof that Obama is the perfect presidential candidate for the hip-hop generation, here’s a clip from earlier this year:

I agree completely, and it’s shocking to see that kind of intelligence and understanding from a politician.  If you’re involved with hip-hop culture and NOT planning on voting for Obama, I’d love to know why.  Not to say it’s not possible, but you better have some substantive policy disagreements…

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