Friday, April 27, 2007

Common returned hip-hop fans to their roots

No hype man, no dancers no party over here.

A hype Common, a banging DJ, a drummer and keyboardist was all it took at Grand Central on Central Avenue on Thursday. For about an hour, Common rapped and preached about hip-hop and God. The crowd filled the dance floor, singing and pumping their hands in the air.

The show, sponsored by Ciroc vodka, felt like a respite for fans who’ve seen their culture under attack in recent weeks in because of the Don Imus flap. Common talked about the importance of protecting hip-hop and recognizing its value as a form of expression for African-Americans.

Along with lectures, Common also gave fans the tunes they wanted to hear. Sporting an orange sweater over a long sleeve shirt, a signature hats and jeans, he performed “Be,” “Go,” “The Light,” “Testify” and other hits. Common’s albums sound mellow, but live he’s all energy. Sweat poured off the retro-smooth rapper as he jumped, sprinted and bounced around the stage.

The only low point of the show was his bump-and-grind segment. He brought a woman on stage and the DJ spun various slow songs while Common played the smooth talking brotha’ role and danced with the woman. He also did the obligatory medley of today’s hits and classic rap tracks, in which he and the crowd rapped together. Common improvised and tossed in names of Charlotte streets and clubs as he rapped to songs by Sean Combs, Rich Boy and others.

One of the biggest highlights of the night was DJ Dummy. While Common changed out of his sweltering sweater and shirt and into a fitted white T-shirt, Dummy made Rob Base, “It Takes Two” into an entirely new song. If you saw the DJ set during the EPMD show, this one was better. Dummy created a beat with the “It Takes Two” hook. He manipulated the records behind his back, with his nose, with his eyes closed and while hugging a girl and later pretending to be sexual with her.

In the song, Base sings, “1,2,3, get loose..” Dummy spun that and then made it sound as if Base was saying “3,2,1.” Oh, and he did “The Matrix” slow spin as well. Crazy. His set reminded hip-hop fans that deejaying is an art. It’s more than playing songs off your laptop and yelling into the mike every few minutes. Somebody has to bring him down here to DJ a party. He swears he never plays the same song twice in one night and his judging from the snipped we saw on Thursday, he could keep a party going all night.

For fans of hip-hop that moves your body and your spirit, Thursday night rejuvenated both.


Angie said...

Hey Tonya...

I hope I wasnt rude when you stepped in front of me to get pictures...

I thought you were trying to get in between me and that fine-ness that is COMMON...And I couldnt have that!!!...

Great show and again, your column is awesome!!!

Keep writing!!!...

Anonymous said...

I've been attending a lot of these free concerts and I must say, Little Brother, The Roots, and now Common have all put on magnificent live shows. Taking the shows to the level where they should be. We don't need the artist and their 30 hype men all screaming in their mics or one cat droning into a mic boring the crap out of me. Just because an album is hot doesn't mean an artist can rock a crowd and vice versa.

DJ Dummy did his thing too.