Wednesday, February 4, 2009

People I Strongly Dislike: Common.

As ya'll know, I'm a rap music junkie, and although my tastes are more subterranean in nature, I keep up with the commercially popular cats too. Since I listen to Sirius XM all the time (rather than "regular" radio) I'm admittedly not up on what the current songs are, but if the satellite radio playlist is anything like the regular one, I'm clearly not missing anything.

Some well-known rappers seem to have fallen on some hard creative times of late. Either that or they're just washed up. One such guy would be Common.

[Editor's Note: One-finger salute to Universal Music Group for blocking embedding of music vids from Youtube, and subsequently ruining this post.]

I was a big fan of Lonnie Rashid Lynn, waaaay back when he was known as Common Sense[1]. The consummate B-Boy, dude was more of a punchline lyricist on his debut album Can I Borrow A Dollar?, but still dropped dope gems like "Breaker 1-9", "Take It EZ" and one of my favorite remixes of all time, "Soul By The Pound".

On subsequent albums, he went on to create even more classic material like "Resurrection" and "I Used To Love H.E.R".

Common was by then well established as a vanguard of quality rap music. His name, along with Mos Def, Taalib Kweli, and The Roots was a common retort when defending the integrity of hip hop. But he seemed to peak creatively with 2000's brilliant Like Water For Chocolate. Despite all the ultra lyrical materion on this classic album, his ladies-first single "The Light" inexplicably became a radio hit. And I knew we were in trouble.

Then he fell for singer Erykah Badu made the worst career decision of any black man this side of Baron Davis going to the Clippers, with the dreadful Electric Circus. Words cannot describe the botched abortion on wax that this album was.

A few years ago, Comm latched onto fellow Chicagoan Kanye West and experienced a career resurrection with back-to-back albums Be and Finding Forever. Ditching his neo-soul eccentricity for some generic ghetto-shaman act, he reached the commercial apex of his career, but his music sounded like the sorta banal, yawn-inducing crap they play in the background at Starbucks.

Caramel Macciato, please. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....

Now, Common's B-Boy days are long gone. He's beginning what seems to be a promising Hollywood career, has dated starlets like Serena Williams and Kerry Washington, and even has a commercial for Lincoln. Dude's come up. But the music? Uh, not so much.

Listen to this bullshit right here.

I'd show you the extra frooty video, but of course Youtube doesn't allow embedding. Bastards. Trust me, it's for the better. The guy responsible for "I Used To Love H.E.R." is now ripping off "Planet Rock"? Seriously?

Again, I'm all for progression. Expecting the guy to still be rhyming about being cockblocked and drankin' 40's a decade in the game is simply unrealistic. But lyrically, dude has regressed bigtime. Some of his punchlines make me feel like punching myself.

Seriously, listen to Common on 1994's classic "Watermelon". Try counting the obscure pop culture references and punchlines. You'll give up after the first 8 bars. There's just too much stuff here.

"I stand out like a n*gga on a hockey team, I goals and I can like a pop machine." Amazing.

Now, listen to the same man on 2009's "Punch Drunk Love".

"Check my dictionary... that a$$ is so defined." WTF?!?

Turrible. Just. Turrible. Aren't you supposed to get better with time.

Don't misread the post title, I don't "strongly dislike" Common. I met him at the Inauguration and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. I even lied and told him I liked "Universal Mind Control". I shoulda told him to come visit my site.

Again, no disrespect to the man himself. I just "strongly dislike" the music he's made lately. He needs to hang up the mic while he's still ahead.

Question: Do you think Common's lost his lyrical talent? Can you think of another artist who seems to have really lost it over the years, yet still remains popular for some odd reason?

[1] Cyber CapriSuns™ to the first person who can explain the name change.

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