Common and Bilal tackle mass incarceration on “Letter To The Free”

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Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing "Letters to the Free" at The White House | via NPR's YouTube page
Common (left) and Bilal (right) performing “Letters to the Free” at The White House | via NPR’s YouTube page

After first performing the song during his Tiny Desk Concert at The White House, Common has officially premiered “Letters To The Free”, a track that features Philly’s own Bilal on the hook. The song frames mass incarceration as a new form of slavery and features an understated, jazzy rap style.

The subject matter of “Letter To The Free” has been relevant for a long time, but it feels especially poignant in the current political climate. This is certainly not lost on Common, who makes multiple references to Donald Trump in the second verse. Over a steady, shuffling beat and gentle piano, he amplifies the voices of the frustrated masses with “We starin’ in the face of hate again / The same hate they say will Make America Great Again.”

Common’s Black America Again is out Friday, November 4th via ARTium/Def Jam, but until then, stream “Letter to the Free” below.

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