It’s official: Common’s highly anticipated album Black America Again is set to release on Nov. 4. The announcement came shortly after the Chicago rapper debuted three of the album’s tracks during a Tiny Desk Concert episode filmed at the White House. It was there that he unveiled “The Day Women Took Over,” “Little Chicago Boy,” and “Letter to the Free.” The last of these was released Friday as a pre-order single, and features singer/songwrtier Bilal, who makes an appearance on four of the album's cuts.
According to a Def Jam Recordings press release, “Letter to the Free” was written for the Ava DuVernay-directed documentary 13th. The film is named after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. 13th will address racial issues in the country’s criminal justice system, and explore how institutionalized systems disproportionately target racial minorities.
“Pride of the pilgrims affect lives of millions since slave days/Separating fathers from children/Institution ain't just a building/But a method of having black and brown bodies fill them/We ain't seen as human beings with feelings/Will the U.S. ever be us? Lord willing,” Common raps.
“Letter to the Free” has been nominated for “Best Song in a Documentary” for the 2016 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards. You can listen to it below on Apple Music or Spotify, and pre-order Black America Again here.