His fucking mind was dressed trans-real
Love and Loyalty were really for the other
A hustler who wins, respect fickle as the swoosh
Hiking concrete with foamposites frothing by the socks,
All his work is ready to pitch disease
It’s like all he read were sour dreams of blundered branding
Revolution sucks when you gotta keep living. If Che was ready to die then Fidel was ready to live. Malcolm told us more about who the devil was but Allah, the Father, told us all that we been and always will be. Victories of two pairs of the realest at two moments, all of the same time, this time we affected by, now. Glory be to Che and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz but today we’re talking about daily living on, the Father’s city science all over my Almighty writing. Fidel, wondering ethics as a way of life with writes, writs and hits on the isms. No capital leading through, travailing over it leaves many a man respecting fake, flapped off as grafted seeds of trans-real. Oh, the churches laugh at the realized Tao of Allah just as the 666 assassins fume over their lost aim at Havana’s GOAT.
See, the jewel is to stay. There is no mystery so Allah, all a’ his children never left. Fidel was the last to leave and so the longest to stay. But imagine if the revolution stayed? Imagine if Radio Marti wasn’t playing Pitbull ham-thems?! Imagine if living right didn’t cost so much at the concession stand, the one at the border of martyr and mastery? Misery and malignment been included with every purchase…
My sense tells me it’s all far from common as I build thankful to these elders, so shakur to procure. And I hear these changes MCs go through seem so disingenuous when all we keep seeing are all these racist faces. Like two parallels of ahk, are these shifting songs the misplaced rate of their mind wax-laced or a straight disgrace to niches they rat race themselves asunder? The more I listen to Common, his sincerity makes me make concessions. Like #SkillastratorLO get to have a favorite pop MC, root for a brother rapping in the White House, slightly swiggle my lip in content, a little away from contempt,when they win a grammy or be a Black American, whatever that means, if I may Dubois and Wonder Every Break. See I hear Common is a legacy of countless musical and lyrical experiments, devastating failures that literally became the refuse to recycle into powerful creative sounds, sounds of GOAT candidacy whether you inspired or not.
But the Sun is shining,
an equalizing zig-zag-zigging equestrian with a swinging hammer.
Really the machete or some kind of percussive knives butterflying.
Burning bridges cause he’ll swim ya 9000 miles arrogantly
But always mightily, his fight’ll be a contradiction
Like being the blackest of the Black brothers,
a yellow seed of Brown people
Common is an MC, his wordplay in mastery of double entendres developed to be filled with daring darts and challenging insight. Able to tell it straight with more sincerity than others (“These are the things we gotta discuss/The new plantation/mass incarceration/Instead of educate, they’d rather convict the kids/As dirty as the water in Flint, the system is/Is it a felony or a misdemeanor?…” – “Black America Again,” 2016), metaphors of dominance (“Molest concepts, stalk rhythms, paid dues, bought wisdom” – “1-9-9-9” w/Sadat X, 1999), righteous vulgarities (“Revolution’s like a pussy, I’m tryin to stay up in it/And our music is a message, though some is afraid to send it…” – “Maybe One Day” w/Brand Nubian, 1998), relate our faults as one of us, never looking down but noticing for us (“Must be more than paper these niggas hurt for/through the purple haze I circle days/I rhyme that work for pays/Trying ta’ reverse the slave’s mind and insert the brave mentality…” – “Real People,” 2005), wonderfully reminisce on all the stages of his life from a brother growing up in the Chi (“Fights there would be one, numbers I’d get at least one/We’d come to the get-together with whoever/You wouldn’t know how deep we was, we all didn’t sit together…” – “Nuthin’ To Do,” 1994) to an already great MC with famous stories uncovered (“Seeing a bigger picture, but now from different angles/Tangle of the hustling, survival in the game/Felt I had to leave home to be a household name/Show money low, needin’ to stack fast/City did have my back, now it’s a backlash/Was I a slave to the cash and wanting it so bad?…” – “Rewind That,” – 2014) and transfer his awe with the history of our freedom fighters and struggle (“Through dark halls of hate she carried the light/I wonder what would happen if that would’ve been me/All of this just so we could be free…” – “A Song For Assata,” 2000). When I get a new Common album, despite all the musical failures from the hippie funk of Electric Circus (2002) to the pop fodder of 2008’s Universal Mind Control, I await with a thankful bias, shakur to procure. It’s 1994 again and I ain’t maintaining cause Common’s “what type of rebel eats pork?” is on loop in my mind and this hopeful revolutionary gotta make a decision…
This decade started and Common was just a memory. Too much illness done and too much pop on that UMC LP and it was okay if he was gone. We lose them you know. Brothers, they tell us, are supposed to lose all their grit when the lubricants of good eating plate their palate. 2011’s The Dreamer/The Believer is a strong work, with some songs that flower his sincerity like he got trapped again with them cards from “Come Close” and we trying to tell him we love the Black woman too but–Wait! I had boxes of poems, pre-Skillastrator, of love and longing to many females perched up. Unpublished to protect the undeveloped guilty but Common unevenly stumbled a lot of filler on 2014’s Nobody’s Smiling. So the star glisten and fizzle? So many choices Common engaged in and maybe he’ll marry the middling under these new lights. He’s just our crate now? The catalog we used to luv…
Idealistic saviors from the poetry society
that talk bad about the English
A more Fidelian alpha,
supply and demand are
our understanding to their knowledge
The cake and bricks are for mantanning parties of gore
building blocks for crass spouses.
He thee wed and them reup til’…
If 2016’s Black America Again is as I said, “an album you play thinking on being Black, the colorism in all its pathetic sadness, the beauty of the Original woman from that ideal gorgeous Black, steatopygia afflicted sister to that light skinned honey that only passes cause you say so though no one white seems to be just handing out wolf tickets…” then Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins officially trioing with Common as August Greene is its reprise in realize. We sat and grooved with Black America and now we walking and talking, beats staying thick, stride now eased into fight, the horns everywhere in soundsight and our flight is only towards, not away from. Trump leads am erred ship that’s already bordered the world with its heinously odd rudders steering whites into savage re-empowerment. And us?! #MeToo, enter the white woman 36 #lgbtqidgaffohnokos chambers, exit left all the sisters of the broader diaspora. And so we, the Black, Brown and Yellow, crabbing in barrels, labeling out epidermis a slight tinge away from pitch dark. And the broadness of every nose is measured but when they the same then one is this different native American and another is that different African. Trump laughing again, we’ve become so half-I-can.
But I’m in reprise now and the state of Black America is as it ought to be. It’s got all the Black diaspora from the so-called Americans to the indigenous, every drum is there and all the animals from the lions of Judah roaming the plains to the thunderbirds hovering over refuse ridden planes are in my arc. A fantasy world where my speakers are locked in a never ending, never #RespectFAKE broadcast. My favorite pop MC, a crossover a thousand careers of others would attempt and I would just purge them out of the playlist, is now grouped in a free jazz skip, bop, boom, tap, clap, bap, untrapped August Greene. Quite uncommon again but Common be here.
Frenetic in thickness, “No Apologies” got these drums that stutter, smash and gambol on through Common’s spit statements, “The struggle’s attractive, made moves and backslid/
So I could back, give, way back to Jackson.
See blacks were passion, blacks in fashion, in fact the rash it/
Now it was style, it was loud, it was proud/
Endowed by the clout of the people’s profile/
Reach out, speak now, we down, feet down on the ground where it’s cold/
Facetime, bass lines, grace fines, great minds intertwined on the road,”
all chanted on a corner as activists reacting in the illest meters. A chunk of build for him, a piece of thought for her, a blast of hype shit for them niggas there.
And a section of hope been Common and “Optimistic” reminds me that I was one of those 5 Percenters that surrounded Common in 2000 when he came to 5% Nation of Gods and Earths Show & Prove event. They wanted to see if he accepted himself as the God and all I saw was someone happy to be around Black and Brown folk. We, that turned darker to true, deepening the titles of ego into a science of service and responsibility to all that we create. We saw he was peace, just as we greeted him, “Peace.” He allowed us to be another moment of inspiration as he just finished being mine about three long players in a row. So goes that layering of, “Living it for the infinite,/ntuit of the intimate/Influenced by the sentiment/sent to it/to win in it/Surrendered it to the sky, sent to them my eye…” of optimism over another lovely thick track covering the original from Sounds of Blackness. Knowledge “Optimistic” is really a feel good joint in a future Black romantic comedy where it really does work out for Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union. Just Wright, the sequel, a dignified popcorn in my bucket.
Common can retrospect some without a weakening nigga beam cause he wallows in stanzas and pictorials. Much of his autobiography was his way of loving women but wondering why it never lasted as long as it could be. “Fly Away” laments it over these guitar licks on sanding drums, bulky with indigenousness in the snares, they gallop slowly through the vocals. Starting in the third person then turning toward him as the first person, he metaphors himself, “Checking in and out of Heartbreak Hotel, man/Bag lady, I’m the bellman.” And yet the single is a tough grumbling bass, calming piano cut stripe and Samora soft serenading as Maya Angelou intentions verse, “Let the sun grow, I roll through the jungle on the humble..” to “From dust we start/and we must embark to passion mark the people…” Maturity is a cliche for Common but that piano rides into full stride off into the cold and I stay nightmaring that gentrifiers are hypocritizing their living room with these smooth as fuck sounds.
Jazz is improvisation, an extension of complete creativity in the Blues of Blackness. Hip Hop is a diaspora of all types of Blacks, shades varying, hatred stains variegated, all led in word creating endlessly in the most basically assumed poetic meter, the rhyme. Fuse it on “Swisha Suite” and the drum work thrives at the time when some of the hardest shit don’t sample the right smacks. Almost ten minutes with sharp drum work, polyrhythms blazing and piano vocalizing. The Jazz ethos explores like a roach in a snare tray and an herb cocked into one’s hand. Riggins and Glasper don’t lead Common anywhere he wasn’t trying to go before but they do it on a richer, more textured road. Common again powerfully starts the verse work, “Symphony of next/the epiphany of text/it’s like the chemistry of sex/Street ministry, the decks…” all accentuating the theme of this August Greene LP.
The Common theme of recognizing his duality of self-inflicted stumbles and oppression’s forced fumbles are all building blocks to a greater man. The pensive pencil scribes this way throughout on “Let Go” with wonderings to the mystery god written with artistry (“So much drive that I crashed into me/Father, will time be my last enemy?/That will my soul be worth when you cash in on me/I’m bent, prayin’ on passionate knee”) over a lovely break. We can wonder about Boom Bap and so many breaks so easily spotted whilst so much live work is softly tapped in. But “Let Go” pounds with a 1,1, 2,2 and snare that is pure addiction, some of the best drum work of this loaded year of strong work.
While I lost no time searching for that which does not exist, the persistence of lyric techniques is everywhere on August Greene. Basslines are thicker than a seeded Earth and the subtle musicality added through it on “Meditation” lets it ohm through. Common never not leads in with the wrong flow and his pacing is in the pocket on so many tempos, rhythms and measures, the heavy love and intended inspiration he feeds can be embraced or ignored. The piano work of Glasper flowers throughout “Practice,” and the constant use of Samora Pinderhughes becomes calming. Shit, there are breaks to this war that aren’t just dance offs and molly mashes. And here is where Common has to remind us that within his theme, a theme that’s been niched but I’ll read as sincere, not based on just sales but his own growth through hells’ hails. Common absolutely is a GOAT candidate worthy for his techniques, his success and failure in experimentation that gives him a real time high percentage for an eclectic, an actual artist creating and sharing gifts in gifted ideas, not just a song product maker performing aural tasks. And on “Practice,” that second verse is impeccable as he dives in poetical portraits (“Mountains sing songs, King’s dream long/In simple acts is when a scene forms”) through wordplay athletics (“I improv to improve and involve the “been throughs”/The “them falls”, the “them fools”, the ‘brick walls” and venues”) and back to poetics (“Symbols assembled to continue/It was written and God don’t use pencils”) to usher layered extended clips again (“Demented a dimension and extensions of a man/Intention of divine intervention in a plan”). Another poetic affirmation (“Remnants of when I ran, footprints in the sand/The Son of Man gave me a tan, that’s who I am”) and more verbal dexterity in wordplay (“The emphatical, radical, mathematical/Travel to capitals, in actual fact, extract practical”) with a fade out to emphasize the theme of a man trying (“I seen pain to make the day cry, it takes practice somebody tell AI/Everyday I pray I stay my course, hopin’ my actions obey my thoughts”).
For Common, “the message is where the oppression is,” and I never not related to the letting loose of some soul. August Greene, a wonderful deepened reprise of Black America Again, is a family warrior’s record. It’s tough enough to play on through tai chi chuan and warm enough to raise your babies through. It’s musicality, led by Robert Glasper’s piano nourishments and Karriem Riggins’ unique drum breaking, is a natural Polo worn on Common’s love and loyalty to our Black and Brown peoples.
It even gets me Remembering In Perfection my Ol’ Earth. That time in 94 when “what type of rebel eats pork?” burned in my head and the only way to “maintain” was to toss that boar from the plate she served. Every year after that I’ll never dine on swine. And my Momma still loved my story, sorry for the melodramatic mania, hugging her with my pious prose. Brother, these records, those old and these anew, got some respected resurrection about them…
So we over here,
we gonna pay our own reparations
with students flooding abroad.
Our common competition
will be the last line written.
And bitten is the past participle
of the burying of our principle.
Climb two L’s,
a better ladder to prosperity.
Creators create Creation,
like a linoleum cosmos
lit by a back-spinning Sun.
My clothing is still common,
from an ole Bronx designer circa 1967,
never hiding the realness,
never #RespectFAKE broadcasting.
I tell ya,
No use to one’s heart
if it stays buried in the chest
The organization of these principles around a counterculture, an expressive arts of creation that uplifts the ideas and thoughts of an oppressed people, is why I’m an honored builder amongst legends, knighted by heroes of Medina (Rakim Supreme Shabazz Allah/Rudy Lo, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, Bonz Malone) to further create in my element as a Hip Hop Writer (creative author/principled journalist/honoring historian) of #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic. So the world may find love that locks in with the action of loyalty though they may never find another writer with my kind of grammar…
Living and sharing the pillars of:
Peace, Sunez Allah