This past week has highlighted the extraordinary news that rapper, actor, and producer Common has been awarded an Emmy for his track ‘Letter to the Free.’
The song is socially critical, covering the tragic legacy of slavery within the United States. This was achieved after his award-winning success for the unique music and lyrics from Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th – a powerful documentary about how race divides America.
The official music video for ‘Letter to the Free’ featuring Bilal was directed by Bradford Young, who was the cinematographer for ‘Arrival,’ alongside other artists including Andra Day, and Bilal, with musicians performing the song with Common in different rooms throughout the music video as it progresses.
DuVernay’s ‘13th’ is focused around the institutional racism within the justice system of the United States, and how incarceration affects black Americans more than other groups within the country.
As a rapper first known as a noticeable voice in hip-hop's new millennium renaissance, Common is now the first rapper to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar which shows his array of creative genius.
Remarkably, if Common is later awarded a Tony, this would make him the 13th entertainer to achieve the EGOT, bringing to light both a powerful achievement as well as an element of consequential symbolism in regards to its numerical connection to the titled documentary.
You can listen to this collaborative track below, as well as Common's NPR Tiny Desk performance at the White House and his Oscar winning ‘Glory’ with John Legend in 2015.
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