American rapper Common said it was “very special” to team up again with director Ava DuVernay on her latest documentary “13TH”, which deals with issues of race and the U.S. criminal justice system.
The Chicago native, who won a 2015 Academy Award for best song “Glory” from DuVernay’s 1960s civil rights drama “Selma,” said it was important for him to work on her latest project.
“I think it’s very, very special. She is like one of those creative, passionate, intelligent beings and visionaries and is committed. So I’m like always saying, ok, what can we do?,” Common said in an interview.
The documentary argues that although slavery was officially abolished in the United States 150 years ago, it is still alive in the form of mass incarceration that disproportionately affects black people.
The film, which uses television footage, music and interviews with former prisoners, politicians and academics, owes its title to the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended slavery in 1865.
Common released in November his eleventh album, “Black America Again,” which he hopes will spark a retelling of the black American experience and a past that includes lynchings, discrimination and other injustices.
The album includes the song “Letter to the Free” which was used in DuVernay’s documentary.
“I had written the first verse and then I watched the film and then I continued to work on the second verse. And she and I went back and forth as far as some of the ideas and what we wanted to hear in the second verse,” he said.
“13TH” is playing on Netflix. “Black American Again” debuted at number 25 on the Billboard 200 charts.