Common Explains Meaning of New Single - The Making Of “Kingdom” f. Vince Staples
About a week ago, Common graced us with the release of his new single “Kingdom” off his upcoming album, Nobody’s Smiling, and the feedback has been nothing less than superb. Many hip-hop supporters have grown tired of the state of today’s hip-hop music, but it seems that this particular song has generated some hope, realigning with many aspects of the “conscious era” that so many of us reminisce about. Common validated many of these assumptions today with his release of “Common #NobodysSmiling – The Making of “Kingdom,” where he shares how this new single came to be. He explains how the song started with a simple selection of samples from his producer No I.D.:
“One of the samples he played was like ‘help me get, get the keys to the kingdom’. And I heard that, and it felt like a spirit, and I was thinking about how I could tell a story about somebody that’s from the streets that’s not really thinking about God all the time because they’re just thinking about survival.”
This concept expanded when his team suggested they replace the sample with a live choral recording, and No I.D. called Percy Bady, a renowned gospel choir director who worked on R. Kelly‘s classic single, “I Believe I Can Fly.” Percy joined the project and brought a small choir to the studio, adding a gospel feel that really enhanced the song’s spiritual dynamic.
As the song developed in structure and concept, Common decided to make the song a tribute to the recent murders in Chicago. He explained that he wanted to honor those fallen victims and inspire change. Chicago had over 400 murders in 2013 alone, which really illustrates an epidemic, especially compared to the 120 total US fatalities in Afghanistan in 2013. Although this has been an urban myth for years, we have now arrived at a reality where a single American city has proved more dangerous than a military war zone–and that is reason to assess our contribution to this actuality. Thankfully, artists like Common refuse to let these home issues go unnoticed and unaddressed. We can only hope that hip-hop continues to bring light to these issues and inspire such change.