From J Dilla Beats to Daniel Caesar Hooks, Common Breaks Down His Upcoming Project [Recap]

Photo Credit: David Andrako

Common’s new LP will feature appearances from Daniel Caesar, Leikeli47, BJ the Chicago Kid, and more. There will also be J Dilla production on the project.

In the beginning of May, Common published his latest memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word.  The book sees the Chicago spitter exploring powerful topics such as faith, self-love, fatherhood, and community. (In the book Common also revealed, for the first time, that he was molested; he recently explained why he felt like that needed to be addressed on Twitter.) Shortly after the book was published, Common announced a new project to accompany the book.   

On Tuesday, May 21st, Common held a private listening event at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles for the forthcoming project. Friends, family, and select media — no plus ones — were invited to hear the nine-track project. Upon entering, you were asked to forgive your mobile device, which actually brought an element of attentiveness that would otherwise be compromised.

Approximately 50 of us packed around the room, as Common stood forward in his black-and-white acid wash tee, khakis, and bright-colored Nikes. As he gave the disclaimer that not all the songs — which were mostly produced by Karriem Riggins — were mixed and mastered yet.  He also revealed it was actually his team who suggested he make an EP to coincide with the book. (Common hasn’t released a solo project since 2016’s Black America Again.

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The first song he played instantly set the whole tone — or what Common calls “breath” — for the rest of the EP. Immediately, you hear the keys, the drums, the strong female vocals singing “wash my pain away.” This was soul and hip-hop mixed into one — a mixture Common has mastered over his 25-year career.  

Song number two is a follow-up to his classic breakout single “I Used to Love H.E.R.” The sequel, which features Daniel Caesar on the hook, has a J Dilla beat, which he claims he was hesitant on using without the late producer’s blessing.

After playing the song, Common brought up the fact that many try to get him to disrespect the new generation, but the reality is, he’s still a fan, too. In fact, he uses this record to name drop all the best artists in the rap game right now, creating puns and clever wordplay with everyone from Future to Lil Uzi Vert to Cardi B to Kendrick Lamar. 

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Next up was another soul-filled joint with Jill Scott’s voice on the chorus. This track was centered around his daughter. Following that song was the most energetic of the project: a track that features  Swizz Beatz on the hook. Common actually calls this one of his favorites, making a joke about how he doesn’t have any slaps for people to listen to at the gym. He had to get one in there.

The next track, which has “Testify-”vibes, features a hook by Leikeli47, an artist he “really likes.” This is the classic tale of a man who cheats and a female who has to deal with the cheating. Common has this way of making everyone feel equal, reminding us “we have all been there.”

The next standout was an inspiring track that channels all Common’s memories that have stuck with him. The track features BJ The Chicago Kid on the vocals.

The final song he played us was a gospel-inspired track featuring Leon Bridges on the hook. The track continues his trend of ending albums on an inspirational note.

Photo Credit: David Andrako


Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her and on Twitter @shirju.

Preorder common’s let love on vinyl

Shirley Ju

Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in LA, you can find her there.

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