11
Apr 00

Common – “The 6th Sense” (mp3, also a single and from the MCA album Like Water For Chocolate)

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“The revolution will not be televised… The revolution is here!” Perhaps the revolution Common (n_ Sense) refers to is what’s generally seen as his big push for crossover success.

“In order to get the critical praise and street cred that are the only rewards for your typical Rawkus act, you can’t put together a beat for the club,” says Fred. In enlisting the production skills of DJ Premier, Common takes that vital step on from the other Rawkus-related acts. The backing track has the flipped piano riff and melodic groove which screams “Primo”, while maintaining that beat for the clubs and the sampled hook for the radio.

Common’s rap, meanwhile, is what takes the track a bit further than the rest. The lyrics read like Common’s thoughts on hip hop as he goes about his business, a less contrived sequel to 1994’s “i used to love h.e.r.” if you like. Yeah, he drops into the typical lyrical bragging on occasion (“A king with words”) but ultimately it’s a refreshing change from the materialistic “hate me now” lyrics of many recent hits: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want millions / More than money saved, I wanna save children…this little girl / She recited raps, I forgot where they was from / In ’em, she was saying how she made brothers cum / I start thinking, how many souls hip-hop has affected…Who am I to judge one’s perspective?…I just want to innovate and stimulate minds”

I can’t help but feel that with the right production all the Rawkus acts could be this good. Imagine Shabaam Sahdeeq and Pharoahe Monch’s brutal “WWIII” (mp3 here) with the same excellent production and picture a time when Rawkus acts don’t have to rely on swearing (“Simon Says”, anyone?) for chart success.

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