For the first time ever, NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concert was held at the White House for South by South Lawn, and the producers tapped Common for the performance, which simply put, was dope.
The veteran Chicago rapper stopped by and performed mostly all new hits from his upcoming release, Black America Again, although he did rap his 1994 classic, “I Used to Love H.E.R.” during the 20-plus minute showing.
Back by a stellar, all-star six-piece band which included the hugely talented Robert Glasper on keys, celebrated bassist Derrick Hodge, acclaimed prodcuer Karriem Wiggins on drums and the always amazing Bilal on vocals (for two songs), Common’s performance was smooth, lush and emotive, a clear reminder of exactly why he’s had so much longevity and remains one of the clearest voices in hip-hop today.
He painted a picture of black America’s current state, touching on the need for women to rule the world (“The Day Women Took Over”), mass incarceration (“Letter to the Free”) and the plight of Black men in this country through a story focusing on his father, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn who passed away in 2014 (“Little Chicago Boy”).
Common’s anticipated 11th studio album is due out in November. In the meantime, check out his performance on Tiny Desk Concert above.