Common Thinks Barack Obama Will Change Hip-Hop

‘I really do believe we as hip-hop artists pick up what’s going on in the world and try to reflect that,’ Common explained to CNN. ‘I think hip-hop artists will have no choice but to talk about different things and more positive things, and try to bring a brighter side to that because, even before Barack [Obama], I think people had been tired of hearing the same thing.’

The rapper said his new album represents the ‘broadening’ of hip-hop’s audience — one that demands evolution rather than reworking of old beats and rhymes.” -Common, CNN via

I fucks with Common. For realsies, I do. There had even been a point in time during which I kinda wanted to be Common.

[Blogger's Note: This was definitely before LWFC and the devastating effects of Baduism. Electric Circus? Really?]

In the Mexico household, Lonnie R. Lynn had always been a beacon of sensibility amidst raucous West Coast gangsta rap and the hardcore influence of say, an Onyx. The score to a typical afternoon in Ricky and Ronnie’s room in 1994 would sound something like “Gin and Orange Pineapple Juice.”

Two years later it would actually be just The Score, but that’s another column altogether.

Ironically, today–a day his brown-covered album implored I look forward to–Common doesn’t make sense.

Hip-hop only exists as Common says in a fictional societal vacuum preserved since the onset of his own rap career. In 1989 you were more likely to find socially and politically-charged hip-hop in the mainstream. Tracks like “Self-Destruction” and “We’re All In The Same Gang” were commercially-released singles. Today most rap tunes with such relevance are relegated to mixtapes or are album filler at best.

In other words, your “deep” song is the one Becky fast forwards between “party single #1″ and “party single #2.”

Bear with me a moment. This shit might get a little Jesse Jackson/Econ 102 in a spell.

As you all know, once a commodity is mass-produced, it’s cheapened over time. In order to maximize profit, it’s essential that quality be compromised in one sense or another. On a purely economic level, the radio stations aren’t overrun with conveyor belt rap because people don’t really care about what’s going on. We’re bombarded with such material because far it’s easier for major labels to distribute snap & lean babble than carefully-crafted lyrical and musical masterworks.

While Com very well may think so, I’m not self-righteous enough to say that Bohemian coffee shop rap is better than snap & lean shit. As my upbringing would indicate, I’m a regular-ass nigga who enjoys both when appropriate. I’m speaking more to cheaply-made, cookie-cutter material as it exists on both sides of the fence.

With that said, Barack Obama has neither the power nor the desire to change the face of hip-hop content. Unless there’s a major label bailout package in the works, this all has virtually nothing to do with Barack. If Common thinks that mainstream hip-hop will become more substantial because there’s a half-black President who admits to having Jay-Z in his iPod, I’d have to say that kufi of his is full of Serena shit.

Why does Jay-Z want to rhyme like Common Sense but hasn’t since going platinum?

Mind you, this entire discussion derives from the words of a Common who stands before you today more Hollywood than anything else. Homeboy went from my favorite unsung hero to the nigga in the Cadillac commercial with the headwrap rap pointing out the spots he “used to keep it real” at.

If hip-hop’s going to get better, we’re going to have to want better. If hip-hop’s going to “change,” Joe the Plumber’s daughter has to turn off her favorite urban radio station in protest of the current paradigm. Until we as a people want more than just to lean wit it to the least common denominator of music, we won’t be given more by the TIs who determine what makes it to mass media.

When we all care more about the world around us than the shiny distractions that keep us ass-ignorant, rappers will trade in their gold chains for library cards and subscriptions to Newsweek and shit. If for no other reason, they’ll do so at the insistence of the record execs who sign their checks.

That’s bigger than Barack Obama. That’s bigger than hip… hop…

Questions? Comments? Requets? There is a light that shines special for you and me.

P.S.: Escalades–and the need to equip them with obnoxious rims, stereo systems and engines–are “shiny distractions.”

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  • tony grand$


  • amar

    barack may not change hip hop, but this recession sure will…i wonder if any record labels are gonna be going broke real soon. If they are, we’re all fucked. Less spending on music may mean less talent scounts, less record deals for lesser known acts, less money invested for innovation and money being allocated entirely to hte status quo big names who can make a club hit (and little money at that).

    Therefore, if anything, during barack’s time as president (not: not because of barack), we’re all fucked.

    But on the bright side, soulja boy and his weed carriers may die off from starvation (cause u KNOW soulja boy can’t afford that premium brand dog food for arab anymore)


      “wonder if any record labels are gonna be going broke real soon. If they are, we’re all fucked. Less spending on music may mean less talent scounts, less record deals for lesser known acts, less money invested for innovation and money being allocated entirely to hte status quo big names who can make a club hit”
      That may be a GOOD thing for Hiphop though! Think about it:

      1) These record labels are not using their talent scouts to their full potential anyway. They’re just looking for one-club-hit-wonder type of folks. If they stop shelving money into those type of projects, then ringtone hits will start to become obsolete.

      2) If this happens, rappers will finally start to do lyrical push ups, as I call them, and start making some ACTUAL music. This will also give Hiphop a chance to evolve. Lets face it, we havent in the past decade.

      3) As record label finally crash, there will be no need for “hit song” competition, and Hiphop will revert back to where it started. The streets! Coupled with the fact that rappers and producers have evolved, DJs will once again be shed into the lime light, and the elements of Hiphop will have a rebirth.

      4) Since there are no record labels, MC’s will have to start selling records out of their cars. With no pressure with label heads on content, and no competition for ringtone hits, lyricism will finally make a comeback as a the most valuable asset to an MC.

      5) With support from the streets, this will start a revitilization in the music industry. Hopefully, Hiphop heads everywhere will learn an important lesson in not letting lawyers and cooperate assclowns run the industry. If this happens, Hiphop will revert back to the Golden Age when Hiphop heads ran the industry. And that just dosent mean MCs. It means people who truly understand the culture and the lifestyle. Not TIs who just want cake.

      I dont know about any of ya’ll, but I WANT this to happen. If record labels crash, Hiphop will be all the better for it.

      • DV8

        you just may be on to something. Hope it works out that way. Then these artist have to step they music game up and they business game up so they can cut out the middle man and get they paper.

  • these posts are racist


    did we grow up together? So on point…co-sign. I actually grew up on Common’s neighborhood and so he’s a hero, but I feel what you’re saying, completely.

    • Ron Mexico

      ricky, is that you?

      • these posts are racist

        Nah bruh – not Ricky. Wait are you from Chicago??

        • Ron Mexico

          nah, mane. i’m from harlem.

  • tony grand$

    Dude, did u say “for realsies”???

    • Ron Mexico

      i say that shit all the time. it’s become a problem.

  • these posts are racist

    Also, let’s be honest. Obama doesn’t want change the country and he can’t. He’s controlled by the same forces that control the other members of our govt. Domestic business issues are controlled by big business. Middle Eastern Policy: is controlled by AIPAC.

    The law is meant to preserve the status quo…you ain’t know???

    • Ron Mexico

      a whole ‘nother discussion unto itself, but yeah… gotta know who REALLY runs your country.

      • these posts are racist

        Agreed. But it’s in the spirit of what you’re talking about…and Common’s recent songs, etc./Hip Hop’s mass production and what that has done to the substance in Hip Hop are sort of symbolic of the solidification/validation of all of my cynicism and exposes the fact there are no more revolutionaires…or people who simply want to raise the quality of life for poor/poor brown&black folks, but rather, everyone has their price…in terms of money or power…and will sell out. Jay was just real about it, early on, even if he claims to be “Che Gevra with bling on…” Get out of here with that bull.

        Oh…Harlem? Cool…I’m from Chicago…South Side…stand up. The Gardens.

        • these posts are racist

          PS…i hit you up at your email address.

  • Shawty J

    I agree with you, Ronnie, big time!

  • tony grand$

    Bigger than Barak Obama
    Bigger than Hip Hop
    That’s a major statement. It does extend well beyond the parameters & perimeters of what demands our attn @ the present. Any type of “change” isn’t gonna be ushered in by the President-elect, nor the everyday MC turnt actor. It begins with the acknowledgment of the bigger picture, & the parts we all play, collectively. The “shiny distractions”, even on a smaller caliber (girls, peer pressure, lack of esteem, broken homes), are breaking the spirit needed for us to overcome as individual ppl, then evolve together as a movement. Y si Senor Mejico, that notion is bigger than the narcissistic culture we bury ourselves in, & bigger the man we look to for salvation as some sort of halfer super hero.
    As far as the music goes, we have to say ‘fuck the music’, in order to love the music, if u follow me. Too much emphasis is put on every negative thing we can wrap our lil sausage fingers around, then regurgitated to anyone within earshot range. @ that point, it becomes the responsibility of the consumer/listener to decipher & discern. We need cats that are willing to make a point, before making a hit. We need more “Nigga ya love to hate” O’Shay Jackson, less “Chrome & Paint” Ice Cube. Right now, Kanye may be the closest thing hip hop has to a sacrificial lamb. Most the shit he does/says is nutso, but he says what others won’t. If we can get him back on his meds, then maybe we can put him back in the runnings for being “the voice of our generation”. Until ppl demand quality music with substance, then we can’t scream for the public lynching of the Soulja Boys, shit, @ that rate we won’t have but a few rap niggas left to listen to. While I can’t realistically embrace 808′s, I damn sure know that mufuck has balls like a Tyrannasaurus Rex to drop that album. He basically said “Fuck everyones opinion!”. I mos defly admire the sentiment, but the music just didn’t do it for me. If we could couple that arrogant nonchalance with a lil enlightenment, & stil have a somewhat entertaining product, than we could revive those days where it went from revolution (turnin in circles), to evolution (advancing to the next stage).
    I refuse to put all my eggs in Obama’s basket, as much as I refuse to let Common lead me to the promised land. About all I can do this late in the game is focus on my bench players (the starters seem to be getting a tad bit weary), which is the youth. What my generation (& most of us, for that matter) lacked in guidance & tutoledge (thanks crack!) can be replaced by todays Dads, older brothers, mentors. Teach one, reach one, & that applies to each one. Or, @ least it should. I’ve abruptly come to the conclusion that I can’t “change” shit about today, but ill be a monkeys uncle if I can’t do all within my power to ensure that tomorrow is the best that it can be. So, that’s where my sights r set. Kanye said it best, “uh uh, u can’t tell me nothin!”, & he was right! I stop tryin to tell adults shit bcuz regardless of their maturity level, they’re gonna do what they see fit. But, the children, the true youngins, that’s the future. Tomorrow starts today, be it music, social struggle, the basic existence & renaissance of mankind as we perceive it, all begins with decisions made @ this very moment.
    The fastest way to reach the youth, to me, is thru the music. So, its time we start givin the lil bastards somethin to REALLY listen to.

    • Hate Hate and more Hate

      @ Phony Dollars

      Nobody is reading that long ass homo rant. Quit writing them fruity ass stories nigga!

    • FlapJack

      You often do bring some food for thought,
      but there is no way I’m reading that block of ants..

      maybe hit space every once in a while, and explain in fewer words.

      • tony grand$

        @ flapjack

        Ur right. Didn’t realize that. Good look.

  • Hate Hate and more Hate

    Common is one confused nigga. Any man that wears a sleeveless turtle neck is a very confused individual that can’t be trusted. I lost the little respect I had for that nigga, once I seen this nigga dancing on stars and planets with that gorilla looking bitch Macy Gray. Maybe you Common, should take a dive from rap with Greg Louganis, because both yall niggas is gay!!!

    • tony grand$

      @ HH&moreH,

      U said it pefect my nig. Nobody is reading. Btw NOBODY, thnx reading, & commenting. Have a good day in second period.

    • that nigga

      @ Hate, you are absolutely right. A sleeveless turtleneck??? Wow. I dare a nigga to walk down my block like that with them tight ass nutt huggers on. Wow. Cant even visualize no shit like that.

  • B-Double

    Ron, I agree with you but I think that hip-hop is taking on too much burden. We all agree that the audience and many of the artists are distracted by “shiny things.” But how is that different than the rest of the music, entertainment and media industries?

    Soulja Boy sells units because people want disposable everything. They want to Google it, download it and consume it all in 24 hours before they move onto the next thing. We can’t ask rap to do all that heavy lifting.

    I’m hopeful that the times will start to weed out the excess and that Obama’s tone will be such to emphasize substance over convenience. That’s not to say it will mean or change anything, but it will help.

    @ NAWLEDGE, I’m not an industry dude but I know economics. If you think for a second that when the market and dollars get tight for labels that they will turn to long-run, substantive music, you’re out of your tree. If anything, the pressure will be on to find “the next big thing” that will save people’s jobs. That situation doesn’t bode well for conscious hip-hop.


      You’re right about that, my man. But my situation is if they completely stop putting money into “next big hit” projects or a complete crash of record labels.

      Lets say the situation is that they DONT find the next big thing and money is being lost. As a CEO you have to make the decision of cutting off spending programs that dont bring profit and cause deficit.

      This would give a chance for Hiphop as a CULTURE to rebuild, then to revive as an industry. But I understand that the probably the only way this could happen is if the people make it happen. Supply and demand is a bitch.

      • B-Double

        Yep, true. I agree that in the best case scenario, corporate hip-hop and all that it entails would leave the building completely, leaving only people, artists and listeners who love it to work with it and rebuild it.

        But the big strike against that theory is that hip-hop is a multi-billion dollar industry. You’ll need a stick of dynamite to get them off this gig. Rap was once pure because there were no interests, because there was no money in rap.

        I think ultimately, you’re right – if we as fans stop buying the garbage, there will be no market and no investment. But is it really heads that are keeping that train going? I don’t think so. Its the casual mainstream listener that is the real force (and $) behind most of the sh*t out there. Hard to stop.

        • NAWLEDGE

          Absolutely correct. You’re a true economist.

          Lets face it, America is about 70% white and they’re most of the mainstream listeners anyway. Well at least THIS generation. Last generation of white folks are in love with Cypress Hill and Wu Tang, but I digress.

          Its these Generation Y kids. The ones who started truly listening to rap during the Bling Phenomena. If this generation goes back to lyricism, then it’ll happen. If not, Hiphop may go the way of Disco…

  • Omar

    Common Sense is gone forever, btw. Hell Pre-UMC is gone too. He’s Hollywood now. UMC is the 1st Common album I could not fuck with. I feel sad, I’m going to have a drink now.

    • tony grand$

      As for Comm, it just goes to show; rap niggas, if u decide to fux with Erykah Badu, prepare for change (no Barak Obama), bcuz it must be sumn in that twat that does numbers on a nigga. Sorry, had to go there right quick.


    “Homeboy went from my favorite unsung hero to the nigga in the Cadillac commercial with the headwrap rap pointing out the spots he “used to keep it real” at.” i never seen that commercial before tham common trying to get his bailout money on. he don’t want the dealership going under that means no checks for com.

    “When we all care more about the world around us than the shiny distractions that keep us ass-ignorant, rappers will trade in their gold chains for library cards and subscriptions to Newsweek and shit.” ha that will never fucking happen not in a million billion years because there will always be people who going sell there soul to sell a image. who is going to do anything to get money no matter how low.

  • Drew Ricketts

    Common is desperately trying to hold on to accountability credentials he has LONG since abandoned. It really reads like a cry for help out to his Chicago brethren:

    “Yo Barry, I pimp BOOKS, my nig.”

    “[Yawn] Been there. Done that.”

    I have little faith in Com’s grip on reality when he’s deciding between his next Superhero movie cameo and how he can license his Best Of CD to fit Wal-Mart’s holiday promotion.