There's a longstanding myth that as you grow older, you slowly become more conservative in your outlook. Life bends and softens you in many ways and your political opinion is just one of many things to "suffer" under time's oppressive rule. Where you once were out in the streets rallying, you're now content to prescribe your own remedy from the comfort of your living room.
If there was no available data to debunk the notion, rapper Common in 2014 would serve as a terrific case study. 20 years after he made waves with the iconic "I Used to Love H.E.R." he kickstarted this year with the Spartan march of "War". And if that full-fledged political condemnation weren't enough, follow up track "Made in Black America" with Black Hippy rapper Ab-Soul helped keep boots firmly on the ground. New track "Kingdom", again produced by longtime collaborator No I.D., proves Common's manifesto for upcoming LP Nobody Smiling hasn't been crafted on accident. Right away fervent gospel vocals signal that the urban terror Common so often documents hasn't disappeared. "Second row of the church with my hood on, my homie used to rap he used to get put on, at his funeral listening to this church song," he exasperatedly proclaims as I.D.'s drums boldly pump. As he documents all the "keys for my life to end," the South Side Chicago native is readily aware of what that particular article of clothing can do. At its most negligible it may get you stray looks and send people to the other side of the street; at its worst it can get you killed.
But Common's 42, far from the brash adolescent people like Mark Cuban seemed to be worried about. Guest Vince Staples isn't. The Odd Future-interloper is the one who can't breathe, looking over his own shoulder while people cast sideways glances at him. His concerns are far more perilous. In his adroit verse, he wakes up "afraid of seeing my name on the news," worried another family member could end up either dead or in jail at any moment. As he "plays with a revolver" it's clear he's not embracing fake thug posturing, but fighting for survival in a Malcolm X sense. Living in such a fraught environment Staples can't imagine making it to Common's age, let alone 30. He's too worried about making it to tomorrow.
Nobody Smiling drops sometime in 2014.