Like Water For Chocolate

By focusing on life's minutiae, [a]Common[/a] deftly illustrates the bigger picture. Like all the great storytellers...

It weren’t always multiple Wu-pseudonyms and verbose flights of mystical lyrical fantasy down hip-hop’s way. Back in the day, rappers wove their rhymes from the neighbourhood, street poets quite literally keepin’ it real. Chicagoan Rasheed Lynn, aka [a]Common[/a], is one such rhymer, equal parts philosopher and documentarian.

. On ‘A Film Called (Pimp)’ he’s knocked on his ass by MC Lyte‘s street-smart hooker. They’re tales of (extra)ordinary lives, humanising heroes and celebrating the ‘common’ experience.

If this all sounds a little dry, joyless, that’s without reckoning on [a]Common[/a]’s sharp, warm rhyme style, dripping humour and an easy-going street wisdom (imagine Mos Def with dirty fingernails). Executive producer ?uestlove‘s swarming urban-phunk also sweetens the pill, a symphony of dub and drop-out and clipped grooves (check the sultry electro of ‘Funky For You’, the Femi Kuti -powered afrobeat-hop of the aforementioned ‘Time Travelin”).

By focusing on life’s minutiae, [a]Common[/a] deftly illustrates the bigger picture. Like all the great storytellers.