Commongettin’ down in Chitown

Chicago is the birthplace of many legendary icons, and it sure breeds talented rappers: Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Twista, and the most important of all – Common. Not many have the honor of seeing one of Chitown’s gods at the House of Blues, so it was well worth it to skip studying for finals and see Common perform live in the city of wind. Opening with the last track on his latest album, “Forever Begins,” Common won over the crowd immediately. The instant he walked out on stage fans erupted with excitement and rapped along with him, “Forever is what I leave/I leave my one and only grain of spiritual sand/Common good is forever.” The show’s proceeds went to the Common Ground Foundation, which is an organization designed to empower high school education in the Chicago area. The rapper has come a long way since he was last known as Lonnie Rashid Lynn, and producing seven albums is only the beginning of his ambition to find forever. He has appeared and written songs in various films, some of which include American Gangster, Freedom Writers, and Orange County. Common’s appeal is simple, yet few artists bear similar intuitions. In the track “The People,” he talks, “Sick and tired of punchin’ in/I look on the bus at them/when I see them strugglin’/I think how I’m touchin’ them.” He speaks from the heart on issues other than just sex, drugs and organized crime – something many other rappers get so fixated on. A listener automatically feels Common’s connection to his work and the common people; everything is real. And when combined with sweet beats, piano medleys and drum solos, the lyrics aren’t only brought to life, they are life. Common spiced things up when performing “Testify.” Describing a woman’s suffering when her significant other is being tried for murder and gun possession, he managed to pull the story into a skit, acting out all parts. During “Go!” (which originally featured Kanye West) the crowd jumped dancing and screaming and not at all concerned by West’s absence, Common’s performance being amazing in itself. For one of his most popular hits, “I Want You,” Common invited his sister to the stage (a sign of a true family man). The music video features Alicia Keys, who steals him from his ongoing girlfriend. It’s Alicia Keys, come on! As his interludes teased the audience, songs began and trailed off as instrument-by-instrument switched to the appropriate key. By the end, I wondered, where did the time go? Common truly made time fly. He is aware of what love is, and transforms that understanding into tunes so breathtaking that he put concertgoers into a whole different “Chitown State of Mind.” On top of the never-ending rhymes, poetic freestylin’, and instrumental improvs, he more than pleased the 1,300 fans present.