Nas, Kanye West & Heavy D Reach “Common Ground” at Benefit Concert
Common enlisted so many well-known peers for his second annual benefit concert at the L.A.’s Hollywood Paladium last Saturday (September 26) that the show had to be abbreviated as “Common and Friends”on the venue’s marquee.
And it was certainly a night that could qualify as epic, given that De La Soul, The Roots, Ludacris, Nas, Mos Def and Talib Kweli as Black Star, Heavy D and Queen Latifah all gave spirited sets that flowed seamlessly, one into the next.
The night’s absolute highlight came when Common took to the mic to announce that the night’s surprise guest, Kanye West, would not make an appearance due to the backlash from his recent MTV Video Music Awards controversy. But before Common could finish the message, DJ Dummy dropped the beat to “Get ‘Em High” and Ye ran onto the stage, sending the crowd into hysteria.
The night had many other interesting turns. Nas joined Ludacris to do his verse on “I Do It for Hip-Hop” and then, after performing “One Mic” and “The World Is Yours” alone, Common joined Nas to deliver “New York State Mind.” For fans, it was an incredible sight to behold as Com delivered the first full verse of the classic track, word-for-word, while Nas looked on.
Both greats then introduced the next guest, Heavy D. The early-90s superstar took it back with “Nuttin’ But Love.” Then, Queen Latifah came out to do “U-N-I-T-Y,” as Kanye, Talib Kweli and Mos Def remained on stage, providing the occasional adlib.
Before the show, Common told XXLMag.com that he wasn’t alone in handpicking the artists, although he admitted he “made a couple calls, too.” “I have a team that works with me and they suggested some of the names, and made the efforts to get a lot of the artists,” Common said.
The event was the second major benefit for the rapper’s Common Ground Foundation, which raises money to donate to worthy causes. “We raise money so that we can give money to different programs that support what we’re into and what we’re into is encouraging the youth towards entrepreneurship, towards reading more, towards self-love and self-empowerment,” Common said. “We locate programs that already focus on that and we take this money and give it to them.” –Slav Kandyba