Award-winning poet Maya Angelou says that she is disappointed with her collaboration with rapper Common because of his use of the ‘N-word’ in the song where she is heard reciting a poem.
Angelou told The New York Post about her disappointment. The two collaborated on a song called “The Dreamer” on Common’s The Dreamer, The Believer album. The track features a poem that Common asked her to write and recite for the song. While her poem includes lines like “From Africa they lay in the bilge of slave ships / And stood half naked on auction blocks /. . . and still they dreamed,” Common’s lyrics include “Told my n—a [Kanye West] I’m ’bout to win the Grammys now” and “N—as with no heart, I’m the pacemaker.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet said that she “had no idea” that this was the kind of song he wanted her talents for, adding, “I’m surprised and disappointed. I don’t know why he chose to do that. I had never heard him use that [word] before. I admired him so because he wasn’t singing the line of least resistance.”
In a follow-up interview with the Post, Common said that Angelou did know that he uses the word and has actually heard him say it. Still, he did admit that he did not tell her that the word would be used in the song she would be contributing to, although, “I told her what ‘The Dreamer’ was about and what I wanted to get across to people…I wanted young people to hear this and feel like they could really accomplish their dreams,” he said.
According to MTV News, Angelou called the ‘N-word’ “vulgar and dangerous.” The two met several years ago at a benefit where both recited poetry.
Common’s The Dreamer, The Believer, his ninth album.
Listen to the The Dreamer here