Common took the stage at Irving Plaza last night around 9:15PM and ran through his nearly 20 year-old catalogue of hits for an overcrowded, older-than-usual hip-hop clientelle. There was a great vibe in the room last night after 9th Wonder & Rapsody woke up the masses with their opening set followed by Jay Electornica bringing half the crowd on-stage with him during his performance. As an avid concert goer, its easy to forget how important Common really is to the culture of rap, but last night was a great reminder of how talented the man really is.
Legendary producer 9th Wonder‘s protege & 2013 XXL Freshman, Rapsody, took the stage first. Rapsody is your anti-FemCee whose subject matter covers more social-conscious issues instead of ass-shots and twerk-anthems, very much in line with 9th Wonder’s conscious vibe. The two of them have great chemistry and poise on stage and it was a pleasent surprise (to me atleast) to see them hit the stage at about 8PM. The crowd really got hyped when Rapsody brought out Pharoah Monch (pictured above with 9th Wonder) before her set was through.
Then came Jay Electronica. You may know his as Jay Elechannukah, Jay ElecYarmulka or Jay ElectRamadaan Muhammad A’saalamaleikum RasoulAllah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, but what you don’t know him for is his album, which has yet to be released. Jay took Hip-Hop by storm when he released Exhibit A and Exhibit C back in 2009. Arguably the best hip-hop song in the last 10 years, it’s been more than a let down to not seen a full body of work from the 38 year-old Roc Nation signee. Regardless, Jay came on stage and ran through some of his features (Control, We Made It) before jumping in the crowd while performing Exhibit C half-acapella. The crowd was really into his set, rapping along to every word. Who knows the next time we’ll get a chance to see him perform.
Common took the stage and lead off with Forever Begins into The People. The stage setup was minimal, only two DJs/keyboardists, a backup vocalist (who killed it by the way), and a small easel where he would break in between songs to show pictures from his childhood, discuss inner-city violence, political issues and his mom. Whether you’re a fan of his newest album or not, Common is an excellent performer. While rapping, he gets very into the music, moving his arms almost like he is air-fighting, and his facial expressions really highten his energy. He also knows how to make the crowd laugh. While discussing his childhood and how he never thought he would make it this far, he had the crowd in stitches while showing off his striped-sweater from his 2nd grade picture while comparing it to the style he has now.
From there, Common ran though his hits from his Be album, including Testify, Go, The Food before Brand Nubian and Raekwon caused mass-hysteria by jumping on stage to run through C.R.E.A.M and some other jams.
And then came Q-Tip. Common stopped the show for a minute to discuss the importance of ATCQ’s significance to hip-hop before welcoming Q-Tip on stage to perform Award Tour, which then led into a performance of I Used To Love H.E.R. The crowd got more than what they bargained for here as Common performed The Light & Kingdom to close the show. While Iggy Azalea, Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan might be controlling the airwaves in 2014 & beyond, it was more important than ever for Common to shut down NYC like he did last night.