Common at a Chicago gala last month. (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday afternoon that the president does not approve of violent and, yeah, vulgar lyrics that have appeared in the rapper’s work. “He has spoken out about very strongly... against those kinds of lyrics and he opposes them, but he does not think that is the sum total of this particular artist’s work.”

Common is one of many artists expected at the White House’s “An Evening of Poetry” Wednesday evening, but his invitation has started a minor culture war, in light of lyrics like “Burn a Bush ’cause for peace he don’t push no button.” And also stuff we can’t print here.

But Carney retorted that Common is “known as a socially conscious hip-hop artist” who has been previously celebrated, he added pointedly, “by a lot of mainstream organizations and fair-and-balanced organizations like Fox News, which has described that music as very positive.” Common, he said, “has done a lot of good things. You can oppose some of what he’s done and appreciate some of the other things he’s done.”

Our colleague Dan Zak will be covering tonight’s event at the White House.

Updated, 5 p.m.: Click Track: Are the lyrics from Common’s five biggest hits really all that “vile”?

Updated, Thursday: Rapper Common performs at White House amid controversy