On Saturday, December 16th, The Kennedy Center hosted another event celebrating hip-hop culture. The event titled "I Still Love H.E.R.: Hip Hop & The Multi-hyphenate Life" featured Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award-winning rapper and Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council Member Common, who engaged in an intimate conversation with writer and PG County native Marcus J. Moore.
2023 has been all about hip-hop celebrating its 50th anniversary. Thus, in that regard, Common was an excellent interview choice for the evening. Throughout the night, he reflected on his storied career and the multitude of ways that Hip-Hop has served as the catalyst for his multi-hyphenate life as an artist, activist, producer, philanthropist, and change agent.
As the attendees entered the venue, they were greeted by DJ Dummy (Common's tour DJ) playing classic Hip Hop tracks. Shortly after that, Simone Eccleston, the Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music for the Kennedy Center, brought Mr. Marcus Moore out to a positive reception. From there, Marcus introduced Common, who naturally got a standing ovation.
Moore and Common engaged in creative and witty banter during the interview. It was evident that Moore is a Hip Hop head from the moment he told his story of his introduction to Common's music. Moore's delineate was a wonderful segway for Common to tell stories about his career, which included stories about earning a slot in The Source's Unsigned Hype, his beef with Ice Cube, the back story to the seminal classic "I Used to Love H.E.R." and working with the Soulquarians.
A personal highlight of the evening was hearing more about the behind-the-scenes work of Common and D'Angelo trading songs. Many music historians know that the instrumental for "Geto Heaven Part Two" was initially intended to be a part of D'Angelo's album Voodoo. However, it was later replaced with the instrumental for "Chicken Grease," a track Common had planned to include on his album Like Water for Chocolate.
I also enjoyed hearing about the recording process behind Common's ambitious (and a bit ahead of its time) 2002 album, Electric Circus. Common and Moore had plans to discuss the creation, impact, and legacy of Electric Circus on the 20th anniversary of its release earlier this year. However, due to logistical issues, the event was postponed. While the time spent discussing the album was brief, I hope Moore and Common can one day engage in that conversation more in depth.
Following questions from the audience, Common blessed us with a mini-concert where he performed some of his notable hits and delivered a dope freestyle. Hopefully, this isn't the last time the Kennedy Center collaborates with Moore, as his interviewing style displays wisdom beyond his years, and I welcome the chance to support both of these brothers again.
Final Grade: A