Common lyrically tackles some serious topics in his haunting and powerful new song “Letter to the Free”, including Black Lives Matter, and mass incarceration in America. As well, the song addresses more implicitly, yet not so subtly, the prospect and fears for minority populations in the future with Trump as president.
“Letter to the Free” was written for the documentary “13th” directed by Ava DuVernay and which came out in early October of this year. The title “13th” is in reference the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (1)
Common has always spoken up for the causes in which he supports, whether it is human rights movements or animal activism. The song “Letter to the Free” is no different.
“Shot me with your ray-gun
and now you want to trump me
We staring in the face of hate again
The same hate they say will make America great again”
He uses intelligent word play throughout his lyrics in the song. An example above uses the word “ray-gun” likely in reference to former president Ronald Reagan who started the “War on Drugs” movement in America. Also calling out president Donald Trump who has supported similar practises. “Make America Great Again” was President Trump’s campaign slogan.
The song really emphasizes how the prison institution in America is designed to disproportionately incarcerate minorities over white populations. This is a situation that has been highly prevalent for years in his hometown of Chicago.
The song was originally premiered during a live performance at The White House on October 4th.