Maya Angelou defuses 'feud' with Common
December 22nd, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Maya Angelou defuses 'feud' with Common

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."

Filed under: Music

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. woorden met x

    Hiya very nice site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I'll bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?I'm happy to seek out so many helpful information here in the post, we'd like develop extra techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

    May 8, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Belinda

    Miss.Maya Angelou, Will you please read my book "MY LITTLE SECRETS" author Belinda Davis,It's a love story that happen in the south long time ago. And in my book we walked by faith to see our self through good times and bad! Please go to on line to read this great book! And I know it will make a great movie! THANK YOU!

    February 14, 2012 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. lastdragoninja

    my point is... stop caring so much about what other people say, s@?$ i understand that we all have influences in our life, and just because celebs think it's cool or the topic of the hour...somebody else was probably said the same thing??? Ohhhh my bad they must be God, inhale cannabis people and be safe

    January 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. madhater

    sirdavid and markiv should 69 each other.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sirdavid

    I think it is extremely ignorant to call this woman arrogant. There is a difference between arrogance and just being knowledgable. When it comes to poetry this woman is by far the voice of a generation and there is no doubt in my mind that she is probably one of the best and most renowned poets of the 20th and 21st centuries.
    I feel that how she handled this situation was with much grace and sensativity. She was able to express her feelings and then at the same time still encourage the young artist in their artistic quest. I feel that her voice is one of great wisdom and we should listen and use her mannerism as an example in solving problems of divided interpretations and viewpoints. Oh and tracie this is being said by a white college student who has never watched oprah 🙂

    December 23, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mark IV

    @tracie i'll bet you love that show "Hoarders" there's always lots dog,cat,rat and human doo doo, of course you're white,who else would talk like that?

    December 23, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. susan

    Maya should have been told that he was using the word. She may not have wanted her poem in that song if she knew that.She is an amazing writer. One of the best in history He was blest to have her participate.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. AJ

    I like Ms. Maya. But I have to say Common is an artist and he is considered a conscious rapper. If he used the N word it was with purpose. Maya should have listened to the full product and comprehended he dropped it for a reason. An artist should not be censoring himself for others. He should be creating what it comes to him to create. As a writer I hate for someone looking at my work to tell me remove curse words or colloqualism. You know what? This is how I talk and act and also people that I know or have come into contact with. I have cursed like a sailor since 2nd grade yet the next degree I could go obtain is PHD. Don't limit yourself in creation for anyone. Maya is great, legendary in her time. Common is as well.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. AJ

    Little mind, little mind. So is what you are saying that the only people who read or listen to Maya Angelou is black people? And that only black people listen because Oprah says? LOL. You are aware that most of her followers are white women in a specific age group correct? So then it stands that your statement that a person must be black following Oprah and Maya is just plain stupid right. Because Oprahs proven viewers were white women. And, of course, studies swear that blacks don't read. So they wouldn't be the predominate buyers of Maya's work would they? I propose that you educate yourself a bit more. And don't assume that only a black person could like another black person's work.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. keith green

    ms angelou maya angelou excuse me can say what she wants common can say what he wants .

    December 23, 2011 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. davinia

    I have such respect for Dr. Angelou, and I stand in awe of her strength, her command of the English language, and her eloquence that transcends throughout all ages, races, color, creeds, and religions. I must express my disappointment in Common for not being forthright with Dr. Angelou in his representation of his expressed vision through music with less than honorable words which she does not support or use. As an elder, she set him straight and I concur.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. bdent

    People we all have the right to say what ever we want but saying that we all need to be concious of what comes out of our mouths once it comes out cant put it back in ms angelou has been doing her thing for years common also not as long but he is a icon in the rap game now if its not music then what the hell is rock meatl those fools scream more than any other form of music so that example was dumb you know who you are ... common do your thing . and ms angelou . you remind me of granny got to love ya

    December 23, 2011 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dee

    You must be one of those people that have no qualms in demonstrating to folks just how ignorant you truly are.

    December 23, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. felicia

    Maya angelou: nobody says it better.We should always search for a reason to love and not criticize one another. we were all given a talent by GOD, it's how we use it that make a difference and "Common" use his wisely. that's why he's called "Common".

    December 23, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. raf

    if ever their is a reason to doubt it, STOP! Its lovely to see how freedom of speech, be it through this forum is so flowing. Agree or disagree you all had the opp to express your thoughts, most of you played the race card and others, just shot from the holster with no rhyme or reason. But one thing you all have in "Common"! is you've expressed yourselves.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Mike S.

    Everything happens for a reason; if not for any other reason but to expose certain things. And I think these posts display a microcosm of the battle the educated must fight against ignorance residing in the minds of the foolish. Those of you who speak so rottenly about our historic queen will soon hear from GOD in your lives. You little birds who call her old had better hope you make it that far cause fools usually don't live too long. Why do youngin "need" to use the N word when most of the fugazzies have never had to have a fistfight behind that word like many of us have. Now, some of us feel like going upside your dumb heads. To me, many of Common's rymes are just that. Not that extraordinary...more like nursery rymes for the illiterate who think it's so deep. Say something foolish to me and see what I do... p.s. The word hater is way overused.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mark IV

    @Mad Raper your face is good for a toilet,and that is it.

    December 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  18. ej

    There's no need to use the N word in prose. We're beyond that.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  19. bob

    Maya your as beautiful as papaya

    December 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  20. lastdragoninja

    smoke weed, legalize cannabis, open your minds and follow your way. have your own opinions and choices WAKE UP

    December 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  21. The Måd Råp3r

    The Post is good for toilet paper, that's about it.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Name*georay

    kodoes to maya @common let's move on as a people.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Donnie

    By the way, just for the record, I'm a 63 year old white guy who has been around the world many times over. I can tell you that skin color doesn't matter.... Nor does religion. We all need to recognize the humanity in each other if we are to make this world better for all of us.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Donnie

    Why does it have to come down to race? The words this lady has spoken make so much sence no matter if it was "black or white". These are positive thoughts we should all take to heart. To do otherwise only points to the real source of "stupid".

    December 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Donkey Party

    To Tracie –

    First of all, it's obvious that you're an ignorant racist. Second, I live a few miles away from Ms. Angelou, and had the pleasure of working as a travel consultant for her and her assistant in the 1990's. Maya Angelou is down to earth, generous, and extremely intelligent. Arrogance is something that holds no merit against her. The world needs more Maya Angelous, and fewer Tracies. Signed, a 40-something year old white guy.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      You are right. She spoke at my college graduation from UofI Champaign. Wonderful, humble, nice lady.

      December 23, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  26. bob

    Mayo your amazing your words are amazing, your essence is amazing, your wisdom is amazing maya your truly amazing. Blow it out your rear maya, who cares what u think, its over johnny

    December 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Just Stop

    People were reading what you call "crap" before Oprah was who she is. She is well known for being positive in a time where there was so much hate. Reading your comment clearly shows hate is still present. I love it when people hate on others for doing so well. You only make their voices louder.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  28. bobby wilkerson

    i think anglo is right we need to be untied as a People

    December 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  29. The LONE OKIE

    Rap is junk. Some good beats, but I'm not buy somebody "hollering at me and calling it music. It has no redeming social value, but alot people pay to hear and see it.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      If a lot of people like it then it is not junk. LOL. It is just something you don't like much as I hate to hear most country songs with the same twang and sad dog story. However, I will not say that country music has no redeeming social value etc. because it is the music that empowers and drives a specific portion of the population otherwise referred to as the country or redneck white man and woman. In the same token we know rap belongs to blacks and token whites like Eminem. However, because you don't like it doesn't mean it means nothing to America because your children or your cousin or your niece or your coworker are likely listening to it. Someone you know is playing. And it is the music of black people in this country. Just because you don't like it does not make it worthless. Let's face it, you may not like peanut butter but it sells. It makes money. It is worth something. And black people still made it. Sit down, shut up, and tuck away your inner bigot.

      December 23, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JK47

      AJ You sound more like a bigot than The LONE OKIE. You shouldnt racialy profile anything. I agree hip hop/ rap is far from worthless. I am white, educated but from a low income back ground, and I find that I closely relate with and enjoy much of what hip hop has to offer. There are many black people (as well as others from various races) who listen to and identify with country music. Over the last couple years there have been black country musicians that top the charts. For you to imply that all people who listen to country music are uneducated white rednecks is not only insulting to many people from various backgrounds and races, but it makes you sound ignorant. You can not fight hate with hate. I think thats Dr. Maya Angelou's entire point.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Most rap is junk, but then so is most country. The same is true of pretty much any genre. But there is rap with redeeming qualities and intelligent lyrics, just as, again, is true of pretty much any genre. Don't let the form superficially blind you to the content. That's not an intelligent way to approach the arts.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  30. madhater

    I mean sucka mo-fo.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  31. madhater

    Read between the lines people! She's planning a drive-by on dat sucka.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Jair

    Seeing that she published books decades before Oprah appeared on television I don't think anyone needs to be told to read her books. As an artist her comments are important. To me what she's saying is she doesn't like Common or anyone to using the "n" word but she can allow another artist to express themselves how they see fit. Whether she agrees or not she respects him & his art enough to allow him to grow to a point where he doesn't feel the need to use it. If that doesn't happen she's still connected to him. That's what unconditional love is about it says I see all of you & love all of you even if I disagree . . .

    December 22, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  33. learning 87

    Tracie u must b white!

    December 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Stop

      Let's not assume she is White because we are not racist. She is just stupid.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      She's stupid.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Tracie doesn't have to be white to be just plain stupid. THere are many people like that in the world. It is clear that she is uneducated, values nothing, and, perhaps does not even like reading. As we all know Maya is a writer. I have read her since childhood. I don't do a thing because Oprah says because I stopped watching her show in childhood. White folks actually were her viewers for the last 15 years. And Maya is respected beyond the realm of black folks. Little minds say little things is all.

      December 23, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  34. Brandy Martin

    Ms. Angelo is right. If we stand united as a nation, we can conquer anything. We must also learn to put God first. We are the UNITED States of America, but sometimes we don't act like it. God bless America.

    December 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  35. HOlly

    She's right and it quite evident from our current state of affairs

    December 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Zinga

    I think Maya's advice is just what this country needs..especially the Republicans and Democratic leaders. Divided we fail, united we conquer.

    December 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About this blog

Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.