NEW YORK — Moments into [artist id="1184"]Common[/artist]'s new video for "Sweet," a man in a mustard-yellow dress shirt faces down the camera, casually twirling a machete. It's a fitting image for the blistering No I.D. track from the Chicago MC's upcoming The Dreamer, The Believer. Com is at turns cold and cutting on the single, slinging verses like blades.
If it feels unexpected coming from the man who can still set hearts aflutter with emotive tunes like "The Light" and "Come Close," it's just that Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. also happens to be the rap star who brought you '07's "The People." That duality gives "Sweet" its bitter aftertaste and, according to Com, fuels a December 20 release that shows off "a lot of different energies."
"When I started 'Sweet,' as soon as I started talking on it, I was like, 'Yo, this is hip-hop, this is what I do,' " he said, smiling broadly at the memory during a chat with MTV News at the Warner Bros. offices. "It was a lot I had to get off my chest on that. And at the same token, I love hip-hop music and raw rap music, for me it was like, 'Man, I'm gonna go ahead and give them this side of me too.' "
But Common doesn't just go for the crown on the track, he growls at some unidentified "singing" MCs for getting all "Frank Sinatra" on their records. Told by MTV News that early buzz put "emo" rapper Drake in the "Sweet" bull'- eye, the Chi spitter looked surprised.
"The great thing about hip-hop, you definitely get motivated by other hip-hop artists," he explained. "You get in the ring and you'll be like, 'Let's go,' but for me, it's like, I'm talking to whoever feels it, whoever when they hear it, they're like, 'Ooh, is that person talking about me?' "
So ... should the Toronto rapper add Com to the short list of critics taking him to task for crooning? "I think Drake is a good artist," he responded breezily. "He's a great artist." Not to mention, teaming up with No I.D. has a tendency to bring out that street in Common: "It's natural for me to do that, it's organic. That's somebody I grew up with and he knows me and knows what I've done throughout the years, whether good or bad."
On Monday night the Can I Borrow a Dollar? MC debuted the clip via Ustream. In it, he stalks the bustling, dirt-strewn streets of Haiti snarling heat like, "I'm the franchise so I rock my own chain / Know I said give 'em that '80s cocaine/ Something raw, something pure, so I stayed in that vein." But underscoring his many facets, Com also took the opportunity to raise funds for the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country by having fans first donate $1 to the Sean Penn- led J/P Haitian Relief Organization in order to stream the visual.
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