Saturday - Who is SAVING Hip Hop (2) - Common

| Posted in , | Posted on Saturday, November 14, 2009


Common (originally Common Sense) has been in the rap game since I was in high-school at least.  I graduated in 96', so that is a lot of years of navigating thru the industry that is filled with snakes and a helluva a lot of bullshit artists. He has always been what I consider a "conscious" rapper. He makes sure what he is talking about is relevant. He has made so much good music, from back in the Erykah Badu era, or now when he is a Hollywood cat, dating Serena. He has never faltered in my opinion. Have you ever heard anything bad about this cat? Gun charges? Drugs? Domestic violence? (if he did any he sure kept it low key).

Even his new music takes me back to mid-eighties when I was tryna dance, with my big cuzzins and all I had was a lame breakdance move I thought was cool, but looked like I was having a seizure I called "The Freeze!"

This is the original video for a song from his last album "Universal Mind Control" (2008), his next project should be out in 2010. It later was shelved in favor of the Hype Williams version. This video/song is something I can play with my two sons, push the couches back and breakdance in the living room.
Edit - a few cuss words, that my sons hear me say already, is not a big deal in my house.

Common did an interview 6 years ago, that should be in pamphlet form, printed and handed out to the new rappers when they get in the game. In seems a lot of the younger dudes is missing out on much needed advice. I mean he has 8 albums under his belt, a 9th on the way, is doing movies, and video game voiceovers... he must be doing something right.

Ten Ways to Save Hip-Hop - by Common circa 2003 [From Issue 918 — March 20, 2003]>

1.      Free Your Mind, and Their Asses Will Follow
"I worry when people are able to imitate hip-hop so well on Saturday Night Live skits -- it means we have set this culture up to be just one thing. I think the big problem comes from us trying to please the crowd. We limit hip-hop to just one look, one uniform, one statement of being real: getting money and guns and women, or selling dope all the time.
"But you try to please the crowd, and the crowd might change. They may say, 'We're tired of that gangsta stuff.' Or a new cat will come in, doing the same thing as you. But because his face is new, he'll get accepted. As Ice Cube said, 'They'll have a new nigga next year.'
"Rock artists are allowed to just be themselves -- to be the nerds or punk rockers or skateboarders or acid takers that they are. Stevie Wonder or Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan or Bob Marley -- they did songs about all type of different things. You can't make yourself secure by just trying to please whatever is happening now. I believe you please the crowd by being you."

2.      Don't Let Your Homeys on Your Albums
"In hip-hop, we let our homeys rap on our records all the time, and sometimes that's not what they were meant to do, bro. I believe in providing opportunities for our brothers and sisters, but my record is my child: You gotta be bringing something special to a song to be on it. This is my art -- if you ain't got league game, I don't think you should be playing in the league. There are other ways your people can make it in the music business."

3.      Check Out the Hood in Cuba
"I was talking to some of the guys from Linkin Park, and they were telling me that they toured for two years straight. Only one band does that in hip-hop: the Roots.
"Hip-hop artists need to tour more -- both to build a real fan base and just to see different cultures, and know that this is a world hood. Southern cats need to experience New York and Paris or Cuba; East Coast artists need to experience Chicago and the Midwest, go down to Jamaica or Italy."

4.      Hot Producers Can Burn You
"We get coerced by our record labels to use the producers of the moment -- the 'in thing' they think can get us to the promised land. Ask yourself: Are you making music just to have a producer's name on your song, or are you trying to make something good? Put it this way: I think the Neptunes are some of the greatest musicians around, but what's gonna make the consumer differentiate you from the other twelve artists that they produced?"

5.      Don't Think Rhyming About Bitches and Ho's Doesn't Influence Five-Year-Olds
"Words are power. Don't think you can rap about money and bitches and ho's and shooting somebody and then make it better by giving ten dollars to somebody in the community. Your words are probably destroying more people than the ten dollars is helping. Your words are affecting the five-year-old riding in the back of their daddy's car; your words are affecting how the world sees you. I listen to the Roots and Mos Def, and I also listen to Dr. Dre and the Clipse -- we just need to have balance in the music."

6.      Look for the Union Label
"Many artists don't have health, life insurance and dental and medical benefits -- and they don't have the legal advisers that truly have the artists' interests at heart. I'd love to see a support system in hip-hop -- actors have a union, NBA players have one, so why not MCs? I would set up medical and dental and life insurance for artists -- maybe even a pension plan for old-school cats."

7.      Put Your Money in the Bank, Not on Your Records
"You really need to know what's going on with your money; sit down and go over what's going on with your accountant. At the same time, the music in hip-hop sometimes seems like an afterthought, because the dream is just to get money. You gotta create the art and let the finance come as a result of it."

8.      Know Your History
"A lot of shorties got into hip-hop in the Biggie-Tupac era, or even later. We can't live back in the Eighties, and I don't wanna try to re-create it, but to really know it, you need to know its history, from the Sugarhill Gang to Grandmaster Flash to KRS-One on up."

9.      Keep an Eye on Your Record Company
"My album's out, and I still ain't got all of my advance check. Hip-hop artists get less long-term development than rock artists -- hip-hop albums are looked at as a product that should get a quick return, and if it ain't catching on, they don't work it like they do the rock artists. It's hard, because rock artists have more of an outlet: MTV reaches more people than BET."

10.      Make Your Music Look Like Your Life
"For one, we all didn't grow up in the ghetto. And even if you did, there's more to ghetto life than just violence and sex and getting money -- there's a lot of beauty in the community aspect of it. That needs to be reflected in the music. Most people I know from the ghetto don't want to glorify ghetto life -- ain't nobody happy to have to sell dope, and most people don't wanna talk about killing people and violence. As my father used to say, 'Even gangster dudes go to church.' "

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