Common inspires to embrace culture

In a time where racism and sexism have taken ahold of America, hip-hop steps in to offer strength. Hip-hop has always been a window into the lives of those less fortunate, of the disenfranchised and of those in need. As of late, hip-hop has been a driving force in promoting social equality in America. It’s been molded into a medium that wants to offer hope to people of color and women, letting them know that their voices should and will be heard. With dark times approaching, Common’s “Black America Again” aims to offer faith and hope in a moment where everything seems lost.
“Black America Again” is an album centered around social change, a project that offers insight to the black experience and an empowering view on women. With the injustices and racial disparities both people of color and women have faced these past years, Common paints vivid images on subjects ranging from racism to mass incarceration to police brutality. “Black America Again” isn’t a project to make people of color feel inferior, on the contrary, it’s about embracing one’s race and culture in order to tap into their privilege they have and using it to succeed. It’s an album embodied by religion, equality and soul.
What makes this album memorable is Common’s flow. As cliché or cheesy it is to say, it’s inspiring. Common raps in a poetic tone, making each time he steps up to the mic feel as if he’s doing spoken word. It’s a flow a majority of rappers can’t pull off, but he does so with ease.
It’s Common’s wordplay, combined with his flows, that make the tracks impactful. On top of that, it’s the content within tracks that are heavy, yet inspiring.
 “Southern leaves, southern trees we hung from/ Barren souls, heroic songs unsung/ Forgive them father they not this knot is undone,” he raps.
 It’s bars like that that will invoke emotions in listeners. All the content on “Black America Again” is intended to let black expression shine through the face of adversity.
The sound of “Black America Again” is infused with blues, gospel soul, jazz and hip-hop. It’s a combination that makes each track feel unique.
“Letter To The Free” stands as one of the highlights of the album. Offering somber piano keys and a choir, Common raps, “For now we know the new Jim Crow/ They stop, search and arrest our souls/ Police and policies patrol philosophies of control.”
It’s a song that finds Common discussing the Thirteenth Amendment and the realities of the prison industrial complex. The title track, “Black America Again,” is also a standout. The song finds Common addressing the problems facing the community and the disenfranchisement that has plagued African Americans on this energized track.
“Who stole the soul from the black folk?/ Same man that stole the land from Chief Black Smoke/ And made the whip crackle on our back slow/ And made us go through the back door,” he raps.
Despite all the praise however, the album is missing something. It’s hard to explain, but it’s missing a certain magic that projects like Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” and Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” had. It’s worth a listen for sure but it isn’t a masterpiece or anything close to it. It’s an album for the times, a body of work that offers courage and optimism in the days to come.