Results for Common

interviews

Top Albums of 2005

The“Best Records”list: It's“a sacred thing”in pop music fandom, says Jim, requiring a discerning ear and laser-like focus. Thankfully, our hosts are here to help. After sifting through hundreds of records, and countless days spent listening (perhaps to the discontent of their wives), they‘ve managed to pick out their absolute favorites. Here’s what Jim and Greg say they'll still be listening to in 2006.

Go to episode 2

Rhymefest

Rapper Rhymefest joins Jim and Greg on the show this week. Rhymefest, born Che Smith in Chicago's Jeffrey Manor neighborhood, is one of many Chicago rappers slated to be the next Kanye or Common. But Rhymefest is no novice to the scene. A longtime staple of the city's battle rapping scene, Rhymefest initially claimed fame after defeating Eminem in an emcee tournament. He later helped to pen Kanye West's Grammy-winning song "Jesus Walks." But now listeners can hear some of Rhymefest's own work, from his major label debut Blue Collar, released this week.

Two of the tracks you'll hear are "Devil's Pie," which is based on a sample of The Strokes' "Someday," and "Bullet," which samples Citizen Cope's "Bullet and a Target." Rhymefest plays“Bullet”and explains the story behind this track to Jim and Greg. He recounts being at the mall, and seeing a promotion to win a brand new Hummer. But upon further investigation, the rapper discovers that this is not a sweepstakes he is signing up for, but rather the U.S. Army.

Go to episode 33

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15

Common

This week on the show Jim and Greg meet with rapper Common, who happens to be visiting his hometown. Common is currently touring to promote his sixth (and, some would say, best) album, Be. Jim and Greg note that most hip-hop artists don‘t have his kind of longevity. In fact, Common is at an age where he has started to balance his career with fatherhood. Greg, who visited the set of Common’s sultry video shoot for the song "Go," asks him how he‘ll be able to present his more adult side to his daughter. Fans of Common’s videos should also check out his most recent, and most cinematic, "Testify."

Common actually performs "Testify" live for our hosts. This song was produced by longtime collaborator and fellow southsider Kanye West, and includes the producer's signature use of soul samples. For Be, Common also worked with ?uestlove of The Roots and rapper and producer J Dilla, who passed away just weeks before this interview. Dilla, or Jay Dee, has been a mainstay on the hip-hop scene, producing songs for De La Soul, Pharcyde, Janet Jackson, and D'Angelo. Dilla also worked with Common on Like Water For Chocolate, producing one of his biggest hits, "The Light." As Common explains, the loss of his friend and former roommate will be life-changing. And in his memory, the rapper does some freestyling over Dilla instrumentals — a first for Sound Opinions.

Go to episode 26
reviews
Finding ForeverFinding Forever available on iTunes

Common Finding Forever

Chicago rapper Common has a new album out this week called Finding Forever. This is the former Sound Opinions guest's follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2005 release Be. Jim explains that this is a big year for Common. In addition to having a successful hat company, he‘ll appear in a number of movies this year. But, it’s music that is Common's priority, and Jim hopes that hip hop fans won't dismiss this effort as another conscious record from a“backpack rapper.”Common was schooled in traditional lyric writing, and he really demonstrates the power of words in these songs. On the Buy It, Try It, Trash It scale, Jim gives Finding Forever a Buy It. Greg also thinks this is a great record, but admits that it will pales in comparison to the groundbreaking Be. But, as Greg explains, more of a good thing is still a good thing. Common and Kanye West have continued their special collaboration which results in an old-fashioned, beginning-to-end album — something that is rare in contemporary hip hop. He also gives the new Common a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 88
Universal Mind ControlUniversal Mind Control available on iTunes

Common Universal Mind Control

One of the big new releases this month is from rapper Common. Universal Mind Control was initially supposed to be released over the summer, and Jim and Greg wonder if the party atmosphere would have been better suited for the warmer months. But, even the sunshine can't improve this disappointing album. Both Jim and Greg have lauded the Chicago native for years, so it breaks their hearts to see him reduced to what Jim describes as a“horrible, sexist, derogatory empty”album. With 2008 being such a landmark year, particularly for African-Americans, Greg thinks Universal Mind Control was a missed opportunity for the usually thoughtful rapper. Both critics give Common's record a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 162
Black America Again (feat. Stevie Wonder) - SingleBlack America Again available on iTunes

Common Black America Again

Common is one of the many hip-hop talents to come out of Chicago in the last 15 or so years. His masterful free-styling and charisma took him beyond music to an acting career that, at times, took away from his music career. Greg says his latest, Black America Again, is a return to the vitality of his early albums. He hears Common taking on the role of a“spiritual messenger”as he weaves together African-American history with music resulting in a concept album about the continuing struggle for full freedom for African-Americans. It is a Buy It for Greg. Jim wholeheartedly agrees, as Common's mastery of words mixes humor with super serious messages resulting in an honesty to his songs. Black America Again is a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 571
The Dreamer / The BelieverThe Dreamer/The Believer available on iTunes

Common The Dreamer/The Believer

After taking a few years to focus on his acting career, rapper Common is back with a new album called The Dreamer/The Believer. He reunites with producing partner No I.D. and subsequently with an earlier sound. Jim is impressed with Common's ability to rap from the heart and be honest about his personal failings. He had no great expectations for this record after the“turd”that was Universal Mind Control, but now he's happy to recommend listeners Buy It. Greg hears The Dreamer/The Believer as a reconciliation record-both with hip hop and with his former style. It's so“90s”that some listeners might dismiss the album. But, while it's not a masterpiece, Greg calls it a strong return. He concurs: Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 319
dijs

Greg

“I used to love H.E.R.”Common

Bummed by what he sees as Common's recent descent into mediocrity, Greg charts a craft for the desert island. He takes us back to the Chicago rapper's glory days in the early nineties, when he released "I Used To Love H.E.R.". SHE - if you haven‘t already guessed it - isn’t a woman. She's a metaphor for the golden age of hip-hop (H.E.R. stands for Hearing Every Rhyme). Common loved that scrappy city kid who grew up to be a beautiful Afrocentric woman in New York City, and he's disappointed when she goes West Coast and gets corrupted by show biz. There's more than a bit of irony here. As Greg reminds us, Common's lament for classic hip-hop is a hip-hop classic.

Go to episode 295
lists

The Best Songs of 2008 - Mixtapes

At the end of the year, many music fans take on the challenging task of making a mixtape. And, Jim and Greg are no exception. They've both made compilations of their favorite songs of 2008.

Go to episode 162

The Best Songs of 2007 - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg present their Mixtapes for 2007. Check out the track listing below.

Go to episode 109

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214
features

Sample Platter: Voices of Conquest's "O Yes My Lord"

Jim and Greg explore how a 1960s gospel track out of Detroit found new life recently in two contemporary tracks. Both pop duo Phantogram and Chicago rapper Common sample "O Yes My Lord" by Voices of Conquest on their respective songs "Same Old Blues" and "Kingdom." The sample features a large church choir and John Bonham-like drumming. J&G discuss the origins of all three songs, and how both artists use the sample to enhance their tracks.

Go to episode 600
news

Music News

These days national headlines coming out of Chicago are generally about one thing: gun violence on the south and west sides of the city. So far this year there have been more than 3,200 shootings, more than 530 of them fatal. At the same time the city is home to a vibrant and creative hip-hop movement that continues to grow. Greg recently attended two festivals that highlighted the creativity in Chicago while addressing the city's violence. Chance the Rapper hosted the Magnificent Coloring Day at US Cellular Field on the southside. The next day, Common hosted a festival on the westside. Greg says the two events were Chicago rappers addressing the city's violence while trying to do something positive about it.

Go to episode 566

Music News

No matter what you thought of this year's Oscars, Grammys or Superbowl, one thing is certain: TV sells. After Common and John Legend's emotional performance at the Academy Awards, industry forecasters predict a big sales bump for the winning tune "Glory." Just a few hours after the ceremony ended, the song was projected to post a 70% gain. Jim and Greg predict similar success for Lady Gaga, who wowed skeptics with her "Sound of Music" belting. Music from the Grammys is also going like gangbusters. Album of the Year winner Beck has enjoyed a 483% sales increase. And, Nostalgia, the new album by Grammy performer Annie Lennox, shot up 335%. But perhaps most curious of them all is the musical effect of the Superbowl. Albums and songs by halftime performer Katy Perry experienced a 92% sales boost.

Dr. Dre aarp

In other news, happy 50th birthday Dr. Dre! The rapper and entrepreneur celebrated with an appearance on the front page of AARP. That's right…the magazine for the American Association of Retired Persons. But, while that is certain to make a lot of music fans feel old, no one is in a better position to retire than the hip hop O.G. He again topped Forbes' list for the highest paid musicians of the year with a whopping $620 million earned.

Go to episode 483