Phrases such as “I have a dream” and “an eye for an eye makes the whole word blind” inspired thousands of people to enlist in social movements and challenge the standards of society. On Saturday, November 18, Chicago’s own revolutionary rapper Common returned to his home to start his own faction of disciples and impress some common sense onto the University of Chicago.
The Basement Party began on a dimly lit stage, with the DJ spinning a sample reminiscent of Chicago nightlife. Suddenly, accompanied by a stream of bright lights, Common burst onto the stage, sporting a gray Adidas sweatshirt with the word “Peace” embroidered across the back. After energizing the crowd, he slowed to deliver his first message: “The Messiah might even return through her,” referring to the intimate relationship a parent has with child and, furthermore, the ability to precipitate a social change and truly “Be.” Common kept his followers invigorated with “Go,” a track that had this Basement Party jumping harder than the predecessors did to House of Pain’s signature jam.
How to be “Faithful” was Common’s next revelation, complete with the DJ Rogers sample and religious/social lesson about being “faithful to the end.” However, being faithful is hard when the one you love is “sucking the next nigga’s [drum-clap].” With drums blazing over the Honey Comb sample, the crowd bellowed, “Before you lock my love away/ Please let me testify.”
Emanating from a CSI-like break, Common reiterated the fact that he was born and raised in Chicago by doing a bit of footwork, progressing to classic break-dancing and even rapping in-between poses. Kanye West’s “Get ’Em High” was the next song of choice (we’ll just say that there was no message to this song).
Connecting with the audience, Common chose second-year Christiana Chukwu to slow-grind with him onstage to Jamie Foxx’s “Unpredictable,” starting with a light two-step and somehow advancing to R.Kelly’s hardcore hit “Bump N’ Grind,” with Chukwu promiscuously wrapping one leg around his waist and (somehow) ending up with both of her legs in the air, tightly holding onto the performer’s wild ride.
Besides grinding, Chicago is also known for its emceeing skills. Common chose a representative from Uppity Negro to freestyle with him. The kid only lasted one verse, as Common dominated the rest of the track, using his freedom of speech to drop lines like: “Me and Jay-Z should be presidents of Def Jam,” “I make that coochie breathe in and out,” and “Say fuck whack emcees like I say fuck Bush.”
Following an impressive performance by the DJ, the stage became a dreary shade of blue as Common provided mass education to the audience with tales of his life between Stony & Cottage Grove in “The Corner.” The lights transformed into sirens as Common rekindled the fire in “The Food” to allow his and the crowd’s “Light” to shine, singing his most famous hit to date.
Though Common may not be the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., he is leading a musical revolution. With his inspiring lyrics about love and spirituality, Common tries to stop the spread of the ignorance of 50 Cent and other insipidly redundant rappers and DJs. “It’s your world to change,” Common proclaimed, leaving University of Chicago students with words encouraging them to stand up for what they believe in and start their own little revolutions.