It's no secret Chicago, particularly the neighborhoods in the South Side are in a very bad way. If countless (almost voyeuristic) news reports weren't enough, Chicago natives from Chief Keef to Kanye West and Chance the Rapper have been journalistically detailing painful scenes of "funerals for little girls" and homicide totals dwarfing numbers from wars.
It's this notion of Chicago as a warzone that the Windy City's own Common dwells on in new cut "War". A booming cut of Spartan horns and muted drum kicks (produced by longtime collaborator No I.D.), "War" imagines the children of "Chiraq" as no different than child rebel soldiers in the modern Congo or child crusaders in the 1200s. In every case, they've been robbed of their innocence, learning to use a weapon before their facial hair even comes in. "Collisions of cliques named after rap groups, except wearing Jordans instead of black boots," Common exasperatedly breathes at one point, wondering aloud what role if any rap plays in this "do or die" mentality. However, he saves his greatest ire for those "benefiting" from such a perilous situation. "I'm living in this s*** while the world exploits," he bluntly puts it amidst the clattering boom-bap. To Common, reporters and politicians feign sympathy for career advancement, only to hightail it the moment things turn ugly. The cameras can't be found when 13 year olds are toe-tagged and lowered into coffins. And if all this sounds too nightmarish to be true, Common reminds us all in the spoken outro "it's happening."
"War" is the first offering from the forthcoming Nobody's Smiling, which doesn't have a release date yet, but has been discussed by Common at-length.