It is 2016, Common is now 44, and the Chicago rapper is embarking on his first ever Australian headline tour. Along the way, he’ll be travelling to five different locations around Australia and New Zealand in a matter of six days. The last time he was “down under” was at Soulfest 2014, where he performed alongside legendary Hip Hop & R&B acts like Maxwell, D’Angelo & Yasiin Bey. It is only fitting that for his first ever Australian headline tour he brought along one of his oldest collaborators, Talib Kweli. I have way too much “respeck” for Talib’s name to call him a supporting or even worse an opening act, so I’ll call it a “co-headline tour” (it is not officially a co-headline tour).
The combination of Common + Talib Kweli is an Australian Hip Hop lovers dream; it might even be safe to say that heads outnumbered the regular Newtown hipsters on this particular chilly Monday night at the Enmore Theatre. Doors opened at 7:30pm and by 8:25pm, the place was at 80 percent capacity eagerly awaiting a Brooklyn legend, Talib Kweli.
Black star’s more outspoken half wasted no time as it wasn’t more than five minutes before the unforgettable opening chant of his signature track “Listen!!!” engulfed the crowd. Kweli proceeded to cycle through his catalog playing hits like “Hot Thang,” “Never Been In Love Before,” and “Get By.” In-between those hits he dedicated special shoutouts to Prince, Paul McCartney, and of-course, Phife Dawg. It wouldn’t have been a true Talib Kweli performance without conscious knowledge being dropped Twitter rant style, shedding light on the oppression Black people are facing in America.
The stage was set for Common, consisting of two people on keyboards, one playing drums, and a backup soul singer. Classic tracks like “The People,” “The Corner,” and “The Food” were met with familiar ears, the crowd all moving as one.
One of the best moments of the night was when he called up a girl from the crowd on stage and began freestyling from the top of the dome. You could tell it was a genuine freestyle by the way he rhymed her name, events of the night, and even shouting out the place I grew up in, Blacktown. Common continued to entertain, showing off his acting skills in a unique rendition of “Testify” which seemed like it came straight from a Broadway musical.
In the last segment of the night, Common made it obviously clear that his 20+ year run in Hip Hop hasn’t been a fluke but born from his pure and absolute love for the culture; DJing, MCing, Graffiti, and break dancing. He ended the night with a reminiscent track called “Rewind That,” touching on his relationships with No I.D, Twilite Tone, and the late J Dilla. This track set the vibe for a classic finish and transitioned perfectly into arguably his most beloved track “The Light” followed by another Dilla produced gem in “So Far To Go.”
As the night came to a close, he said his farewells and proceeded to leave, he already played classics like “The Light,” “I Used To Love H.E.R,” “Testify,” “Black Maybe,” and “Respiration.” Will there be an encore? What tracks would he possibly have left for an encore? All of a sudden, the legendary Kanye West produced “Be (Intro)” crept up on us followed by “Its Your World,” as well as reciting Nas‘ classic “The World Is Yours.” Common ended the show in typical Common fashion, urging the crowd to change the world, practice the art of loving yourself, loving others, preaching overall positivity, and reminding us that you can change the world by changing yourself.