Armed with Black Thought and PJ (who appears throughout the new project, but via projection in the live performance,) the cornerstone neo-soul rappers delivered an air-right rendition of the track, set against a backdrop that shifted from kaleidoscopic patterns to clips of peaceful protests spotlighting a range of eras of unrest. Though it was a sound stage outing with no band, the energy was right and the song couldn’t be more timely given the mayhem of the 2020 election.
Common released A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 on October 30th as a surprise 13th studio album. It features Karriem Riggins on drums and the lion’s share of production, along with Robert Glasper on keys and Burniss Travis on bass. The nine-track project also hosts a contribution from Lenny Kravitz, who appears alongside the rapper on “A Riot in My Mind.” The album capped an aggressive voter engagement and registration campaign for the rapper, who, even after Election Day, has been urging fans to insist on a thorough count of their ballots.
Though live outings are objectively harder to pull off in the pandemic era, the rapper appeared with John Legend at the Democratic National Convention over the summer, paying tribute to the late John Lewis with a performance of their (Grammy-and-Emmy-winning) collaborative hit, “Glory,” from the soundtrack to Ava DuVernay’s Selma.
You can watch Common and Black Thought perform “Say Peace on The Tonight Show below. A Beautiful Revolution Pt 1 is out now on all streaming platforms. Pick up a copy of the album on vinyl via Fat Beats and hold tight for the sequel.
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