Lonnie Rashid Lynn aka Common aka every woman’s crush. Why oh why, did God make men this beautiful? It’s really unfair. Fortunately for us, he’s not evil, jobless or stupid. Blessings can fall from the sky. However, Common has outgrown sensitive rap (say goodbye to “The Light” ladies, it ain’t on this record) and donned his party rap hat. Invincible Summer sounds like a collection of songs made by Gnarls Barkley but accidentally recorded by Common. Either way, PARLOUR sat down with the emcee to discuss his new album and why he doesn’t care if we like it.
PARLOUR: Whatâ€™s the thought process behind this album?
Common: Ain’t much explaining for this album really. I just created this record for the summer time. Itâ€™s about feeling good, thatâ€™s what I felt was missing from my body of work. This is just some fun shit.
P: When did you start recording?
C: We started recording this like two months ago. I was supposed to be working on a movie project but it didnâ€™t work out, so I was just sitting around like â€˜what am I going to do? Iâ€™ll make an album. Iâ€™m a rapper too.â€™ (laughs) This album was easier to make because I didnâ€™t have to sit on it too long. I believe in what I’m doing, and I don’t care as much about pleasing people first. A brother is doing other things besides music soâ€¦
P: Youâ€™re shooting to release Invincible Summer in July, right? What have you been listening to as inspiration during this recording process?
C: Yeah, mid-July, but Iâ€™m striving for June. If I tried to talk about hip-hop, Iâ€™d be making up some names. I don’t know whatâ€™s happening in rap. But I have been listening to Radioheadâ€™s Kid A, Voodoo by Dâ€™Angelo, I still listen to that album a lot. Iâ€™ve been listening to my music of course, and N.E.R.D.
P: Why all the party rap for this one? No deep thoughts on the worldâ€™s predicament?
C: I talk to a lot of cats about whatâ€™s going on in the world andâ€¦I don’t wanna listen to that shit. Itâ€™s too sad. Maybe at a certain time, but I need to relax and feel good. That’s why Invincible Summer is just some fun shit.
P: I see youâ€™ve only worked with Outkast producer Mr. DJ and The Neptunes on this LP, no Kanye?
C: Kanye was focusing on his â€œGlow in the Darkâ€ show, so he wasnâ€™t able to get into the studio. But Invincible worked out well, organically. Mr. DJ and The Neptunes gave me a fresh sound. Whatever producer I work with Iâ€™ll say “hey, I want to go there” and sometimes theyâ€™ll go left, sometimes theyâ€™ll go right and sometimes itâ€™s some shit I never expected. With Pharrell and Chad, The Neptunes, theyâ€™ve been able to stretch out with me, like â€œUniversal Mind Control (U.M.C.)” doesnâ€™t sound like a Neptunesâ€™ track.
P: This collection is pretty alternative and your trademark thought-provoking lyrics are missing, do you think your fans are going to revolt?
C: Man, if you want to hear me rhyme, I got seven albums. With MCâ€™s, itâ€™s not just about being lyrical, itâ€™s about riding different beats and styles. KRS was showing different styles and BIG was an instrument the way he rode beats. I think I’m just growing. I over-rap sometimes. Personally, I look at some of my songs and think “man that was a good ass beat and I over-rapped on that song.” It ainâ€™t easy to get on certain songs. To make a song thatâ€™s catchy and fun, that shit takes skill.
P: Are you trying to go for a mainstream audience specifically?
C: This is me making music that I think will reach the world and be internationally recognized. I don’t think I went outside myself to do it. For me, I couldn’t think too hard. I just wanted to have fun, let people comment. All I owe them as an artist is to make music from the heart and be. Right now, I like talking about big booties (laughs). I want people to enjoy my music, it ainâ€™t that serious. If you repeat the same thing over and over people will kiss you goodbye.
Someone told me the other day, â€˜youâ€™re going to be a bigger movie star than MC,â€ and I thought that’s good but I want more people to know my music. It has to feel good to come to Prague (more on that below…) and hear your record.
P: You donâ€™t think youâ€™ll alienate your core fan base of incense-lighting backpackers and ladies waiting for a love song by talking about booties and strippers? What are you trying to achieve?
C: My goal is to make good creative songs and, man, try not to over-rap. I can’t predict how itâ€™s going to sell, but I think itâ€™s going to do well. Since I’m not starting as an unknown, I’m going to make music that appeals to me. It ainâ€™t all about sales at this point. It ainâ€™t like if the music doesnâ€™t sell, I won’t be able to pay my rent. At this point, the music is a part of my brand as a business man but itâ€™s not what I rely on to take care of my responsibilities.
P: Ok, Iâ€™ll put my fists down. What are your top five artists?
C: Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, The Beatles, A Tribe Called Quest or Outkast and Minnie Ripperton.
Hereâ€™s the tentative track listing + PARLOURâ€™s train of thoughts:
“Universal Mind Control (U.M.C.)”-choptstick drums, fast rhymes, “this is that new shit…some pop some lock, chics hypnotic…dance to melodic technotronic beats…take off they clothes to”…”you know you like it, its calling your name.” Layered, flute, rising electro keys. ehn.
“Make My Day” feat. Cee-Lo- off beat drums, two step, “she really makes my day” chorus, “seen her ass crack a smile” referring to plumber crack (ew!), girl track, gnarly-ish, Com’s rhyming in a sing-song voice…spongy chords. we like.
“Punch Love”-slowing stabbing drums, “check my dictionary”, (heh…get it? dick? nevermind.) “I knock & I knock girl, can I come inside”, electronic keys…”I wanna punch that love-does it keep you up at night cause you cold feel it right? Yeah” females singing chorus, hollow ting ting ting on the off beat, “I know ur spot baby”, “and rub that love and bust that love”…electric kazoos at end, we like the kazoos, “roll it over baby.” This song doesn’t make us want to have sex with Common and we are sad.
“What A World” feat. Chester French-stabbing drums, ting tings w/ can, fuzzy “EH!!!” Cheers-what a world repeated 2x on chorus, he’s rapping like Whodini ala “freaks come out at night”, bouncy guitar, electronic keys, futuristic “ehown-sounding” key on the off beat, “you ain’t make no hit song he tells himself you gotta do what you do.” Make the song stop please. Common tells us this song is “about my evolution but I wanted to do it in an uplifting way. I usually be able to break down the lyrics but this time, just “booties pop it, coochies drop it.” he laughs, we do too, but only out of politeness.
“Changes”-light strings, airy keys with acoustic guitar and whistling, strong drums, ding ding’s, squashed futuristic bass with percolating sound, chorus “I know a change gon’ come-the rains begun were almost there” in a female voice, “wishing I was a child…don’t let these fools take you off your path…victory can be claimed while you’re still battling,” ending w/ whistles. this song is ok. Common tells us “Just being abroad and going to parties where my DJ was spinning but he wasn’t playing any of my records. Nothing. And this is my DJ! My music ain’t rock the party. I wanna make music to rock the party, so this is me doing that.”
“Party Shit”-elec drums, kick drums, chorus “sex and sugar-sugar and sex,” getting at a girl, boo hiss. “I’m touch you where the sun don’t shine,” more chorus “girl you been touched by the force of nature-i’m just trying to motivate ya-electricity is in the air I got shocked when I touched hair,” stabbing** double drum pattern, mini-fat elec keys…”all that dancing sugar, sugar sugar u ain’t nothing sweet.” we hate it. Common tells us…”Sex w/ sugar, I’m talkin to a stripper so that’s what it is.”
“Dreaming”-strolling stabbing drums, electric dribble sound, chorus “sometimes I feel like I’m living in a day dream,” “make way for the king again my career never seems to end,” rhyming ON the beat heavy…ugh, don’t like, woulda been a killer gnarls or Andre 3000 song-what is it about Hollywood that turns people out? we still love you Common, lol. Sigh…ragtime piano keys outro.
“Runaway” feat. Santogold-80s drums & running beat, kinda like this song, guitar strumming fast, elec low keys pounds at end. we like this one. can’t wait to hear the version with Santo, our patron saint, on it. Common as a hipster? hmm…