By Justin Lee
common sense (n) 1: sound and prudent but often unsophisticated. judgement 2: the unreflective opinions of ordinary men.
Webster’s definition of common sense is anything but when it comes to describing one of the most prolific lyricists of his time; Chicago’s Common, formerly Common Sense, is one of the few MCs in hip-hop today that is lyrically-driven, evoking a social-consciousness much needed in this day-and-age. On his fourth album Like Water For Chocolate, Common enlists the help of guest artists D’Angelo, Black Thought, Rahzel, Cee-Lo, Slum Village and mc Lyte. With album production done almost entirely by Jay Dee, this album is musically eclectic, ranging from sounds of jazz to funk to gritty hip-hop.
Common continues to explore a variety of issues through his music. He takes a shot at fake MCs on the bass-thumpin’ "Dooinit" arguing that such artists fail to expand the creativity of hip hop. Meanwhile, "Song For Assata" tells the life of ex-Black Panther’s activist, Assata Shakur, sentenced to life in prison for killing a New Jersey cop. On the "6th Sense" Common gives a cynical but reflective look at the hip-hop industry and his own role in the innovation of its otherwise stagnant state.
He flows over the infectious DJ Premier beat: "I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want millions/More than money saved, I want to save children/Dealing with alcoholism and afrocentricity/A complex man drawing off of simplicity/Reality is frisking me/This industry will make you lose intensity/The common sense in me remembers the basement/I’m Morpheous in this hip hop Matrix exposing fake shit."
Common has made another ground-breaking album and although it doesn’t quite measure up-to-par with his 1994 classic, Resurrection, it give fans reason to not give up on this thing called hip-hop.