Common‘s Hollywood shuffle hasn’t quelled his hip-hop jones in the least.
On Monday, the Chicago MC dropped “War,” the first song from his upcoming 10th solo LP, Nobody Smiling. While Twitter was cheering on Florida State on their way to beating Auburn in last night’s BSC national football championship, Com tweeted out a link to his new track, produced by longtime friend and collaborator No I.D.
The veteran producer kicks off “War” with triumphant horn stabs and a military-style drumroll, which sets the perfect stage for Common’s conflicted correlation between the violence in his native Chicago and global warfare.
“Lil Marcus shot at Lil Reese and ‘em/ Little n—as, it’s hard to find peace in ‘em/ Chiraq, they say it’s Middle Easterner/ Put ya flames in the air for the deceased and the/ Young soldiers, who never got to become older,” the “Hell on Wheels” star spits in a strong yet somber tone.
“It’s time to help these kids,” Common tweeted shortly after the track was released.
“We came up with this concept; Nobody’s Smiling was really a thought that came about because of all the violence that was going on in Chicago,” Common says in an interview segment that plays out at the song’s fade. “It happens in Chicago, but it’s happening around the world in many ways. It may not be to the numbers that’s happening in Chicago, but it’s happening in the inner-cities all over America. It’s really a call to action.”
The gruesome violence in Chicago has been making headlines for the past few years. In December, an aspiring rapper who went by the name Young QC was charged with the September murder of his own mother; authorities believe he set her up to be killed in order to collect on her two separate life insurance policies.
A number of Chi-town artists have been speaking out on the epidemic. In October, Chance the Rapper referred to his hometown as a “scummy place,” and recalled a time a few years ago when his best friend was stabbed and died right in front of him.
“People wanna romanticize it and say, ‘There’s two sides to it, and it’s a beautiful love/hate story of violence and music.’ But it’s really just a very scummy place where people don’t have respect for other people’s lives. And it’s not gonna change until somebody, anybody, puts it right in front of everybody else’s faces,” he said when he appeared on “RapFix Live.”
The horrors from Chicago’s streets brought Lupe Fiasco to tears when he appeared on “RapFix Live” way back in 2012 after host Sway Calloway showed him an old video of friends who fell victim to the city’s violence.
“Chicago’s the murder capital. The dudes in that video are in prison, a couple of fed cases, and then there’s ghosts. You see people that, that ain’t there,” Lupe said sobbing and hiding his tears behind his round-rimmed shades. “Some of those kids ain’t gonna make it out of there. You feel so helpless.”