Common occupies a fairly unique lane in the Hip-Hop scene. Hes at once an acclaimed actor, a lyricist of the highest order, and emcee of substance as well as style. Respected by both the bourgeoisie and the boulevard. With a catalogue that spans over a decade, hes gone through many stylistic changes and has plenty of ammo for a show. Its under this umbrella that Common took the stage at Generations Nightclub in the heart of the French Quarter. Backed by both a live band and two turntables, Common took the stage sans hype man. A minimalist set in an intimate venue that held roughly 250 people.
To the beat of the Finding Forever intro, Common prefaced his performance with a short speech on taking the crowd for a journey. There was a noticeably lower than usual sausage ratio and from the gate you know that Commons status as progressive sex symbol is in full effect. He may do it for the people, but on this trip hed definitely play to the ladies.
The show immediately gets in full gear as Go" blares from the speakers, with the band playing live while the DJ mixes in Apache in a true B-boy blend. The older crowd certainly understood what was going on and bounced feverishly. Its clear that Common is in his moment. Ladies saying owww brothers yelling hooooo.
From there he segues into Testify. For this venue, it was not a really good song choice because only the fans know it. The crowd milled around until the actor in Common took center stage. The music stopped after the first verse, and Common delivered the second verse as spoken word almost like a theatrical piece. After a dramatic stage performance of the second verse the beat returns and the change of pace brings the crowd back. A true veteran move.
After a brief endorsement of Barack Obama, Common exploded into The People, which was easily the hardcore moment of the night complete with the crowd bouncing, everybody rapping along with him. Hands were waving side to side and every section was representing. The frenetic pace of the beat was broken up staccato at the end and then it was back to babeland with Driving Me Wild. He continued to cater to the female heavy crowd with songs like Come Close To Me, and How Beautiful. He spoke of love and threw a little jab at fellow Go emcee Kanye who in Commons words loves himself a lot. A good natured jab but sure to raise a couple eyebrows.
The highlight of the performance was an old school medley in which Common paid homage to those that came before him. Commen went thru Paid in Full, Top Billin, Stop The Violence, the Tribe classic Bonita Applebum, Juicy, I Need Love and few other classics. Keeping true to his inner B-Boy he broke out the Wop, the Roger Rabbit and the Biz Dance.
He did a few of his classic joints including I Used To Love H.E.R and its part II verse from Badus Love of My Life, then kicked an off the top rhyme over the beat to Resurrection which included the mention of getting his shot in the celebrity All-Star game blasted by a girl earlier that evening. The real Hip-Hop was certainly over there
In a nutshell, a Common show is the perfect place to take your wife or your girl and have them satisfied while you get a lil taste of the boom bap. It aint rough rugged and raw and Timbs are definitely not appropriate, but at the end of the day its about love and youll get your moneys worth. Commons performance was a dash romance, a sprinkle of Shakespeare in the park, a little history lesson, and a pinch of that heat. Hip-Hop gumbo for the Big Easy. And oh yeah rappers take note; Common was on time to his performance.