December 22nd, 2011
03:00 PM ET
It was reported earlier this week that Dr. Maya Angelou was upset with the rapper Common over his use of the "N" word on his new album, but Angelou has since clarified that there isn't a dispute.
Common's just-released "The Dreamer/The Believer" features Angelou, 83, reciting a poem on the track "The Dreamer." The New York Post reported Sunday that Angelou was "horrified" that the rapper would have her appear on a song in which he uses the term.
The legendary poet was quoted as saying that she was "surprised and disappointed," adding, "I don't know why he chose to do that. I had never heard him use that [word] before. I had admired him so because he wasn't singing the line of least resistance."
On Monday, Angelou called in to BET's "106 & Park," where Common was talking about his new album, and, according to a statement, said "disappointed" was the wrong word.
"I don’t think the word 'disappointment' quite makes it," Angelou reportedly told listeners. "I was 'surprised.' I know that Common is brilliant. He may, in fact, be close enough to be called a genius – I’m not sure."
She continued, "I know that we are all in process and young artists are in process. It’s important to realize that all of you – all of us – [are in process]. There was a statement made by Machiavelli in the 15th century. He said if you want to control the people, separate them and you can rule them. Divide them and you can conquer them. I will not be divided from Common. By anybody’s imagination, he is brilliant and even genius, maybe. But certainly smarter than us to know that he’s in process. And next week, he might not even use the 'N' word, or the 'B' word. It may even take two or three weeks, or a month. But I’m not going to be separated from him."
Common told the Post that he hadn't told Angelou that he was using the term on the song, but that he had expressed the sentiment he wanted to get across.
"I told her what 'The Dreamer' was about and what I wanted to get across to people," the 39-year-old artist said. "I wanted young people to hear this and feel like they really could accomplish their dreams."
To those tuned in to Monday's "106 & Park," Angelou advised, "Do your best to not be divided. This doesn’t mean you are supposed to support everything anybody says. Say 'I disagree, but I don’t disagree to the point where I want you dead and out of here.' You must understand that, people, we live in direct relation to the heroes and she-roes we have....If we don’t have heroes and she-roes and keep them alive, we are nothing."
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