Common
Bucketfeet shoe shop
New York City
July 2014

Soho is working for the swanky dollar territory in New York City and drips with the money of the new boomtime end of the city. Fashionistas and celebs actually walk on the streets here and tonight is a party thrown by Bucketfeet Shoes launching a series of deck shoes painted by international artists with a chunk of the profits from the sales going to fund raising for kids lives blighted by crime in the poorer parts of Chicago and New York

This is a good thing. And even if you have to put up with the rich people rattling their jewellery and the compere rattling on about god and interrupting everybody there is enough heartfelt optimism and , let’s be honest, cash in here to make a difference.

The shop unit is packed full of flashbulb popping beautiful people- the kind of folk that we never recognise no matter where we are and it suddenly steps up a gear when charismatic million selling rapper Common takes to the mic standing on the shoe counter with a mic, a backing track and a headfull of words.

Common is big news in the USA- his righteous rap breaks a way from the more trad bitches/hos/guns media cliche and attempts self examination and questioning and sensitive non macho lyrics that are all at once refreshing for their positivity but also come with a great delivery which is key as no matter what the subject matter is a boring delivery kills them dead.
Many people say that music has nothing to say any more but they are not looking hard enough and since his 1992 debut, Can I Borrow A Dollar, the Chicago born rapper has been rewriting the rule book, Common is no wimp though. He dominated the space and has that clear eyed zen like calm of the righteous as he burns a hole into the back wall with his delivery and presence. It may only be a couple of tunes but it’s perfection and puts the night into a perfect context.

Common is the positive face of modern chart busting. His new album, Nobody’s Smiling’ is a return to form as it documents the tension of street life back in Chicago with a documentary eye and is out on the day of the gig and he’s playing a key show in Brooklyn tonight but is happy to come here and lend his considerable support to a key cause. He may get to his own gig late but his message is more powerful than the medium as someone once didn’t say and his freestyle sums up the loose strands of tonight perfectly.

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