Monday, September 12, 2005

Common - Love Is...

That Assam the American guy and his taped threat against Los Angeles have gotten everyone in my little group a bit more aware of our need to have supplies at our desks, either for earthquake or terrorism or flood or fire. It's always a bit disconcerting to have helicopters buzzing about nearby, a little more so now, as conversation often turns to idle speculation of how terrorists would attack which targets in LA (Hollywood studios? Financial District hi-rises? Dodger Stadium?) and how they'd do it (planes? poisoning water supply? truck bombs? subway bombs?).

But enough serious stuff-- I have mostly ignored hiphop or have been turned off by it, especially the vapid materialist tilt everything has taken--the Benz and Courvoisier and Rolex and Marc Jacobs, rims and woodgrain, blah blah blah. The narrative seems to be that one day, kids get ahold of a Barneys catalog, and then realize that their lives won't be complete until they are wearing $10,000 in clothing and accessories. In need of $10,000 quick, they naturally turn to selling drugs and pimping in order to get the stuff. And now, they have the bling. And we get to hear about it and see it, and it's all the worst of American consumerism. There's no soul.

Of course, this is totally unfair, because there's more to hiphop than what you see on MTV. I listen to dozens of new CDs a year and rarely do any of them get more than college radio airplay, and I would never judge the state of indie rock based on MTV or the local rock station, but I've done it with hiphop.

Then this weekend, I decided to give Kanye West a listen, honestly because of his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" fame, and I liked a lot of the songs.

And then I listened to Common's Be album. The whole CD is cohesively built around the idea of be-ing, loving the life you are living, and the intro starts out with a little litany of social and political problems and then

Waiting for the Lord to rise
I look into my daughter's eyes
And realize that I'ma learn through her
The Messiah might even return through her
If I'ma do it, I gotta change the world through her

which is, of course (except for the whole Messiah returning thing) just what every father has to feel at some point or another, and I knew that this was someone I could listen to. It's a great CD. So there's probably this whole niche of hiphop, or particular songs on CDs I'd like, and I think I'll listen to more.

Back to work!


Nate said...

Good hip-hop would be the new Blackalicious album in a few weeks. In the intellectual/political/socially charged vein of Jurassic 5.
No bitches or forties or big flashy rims, just amazing lyrics and actual messages.

lee said...

Hah! Thanks for the comment! I was hoping to find recommendations someplace on the net along the lines of "If you liked artist A, you'll probably dig artist B" and you've given me some leads. I'll definitely check out Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious.