Entertainment, Review

The Album That Changed My Life: Be by Common

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By Simran Kaur Takhi

Be is an album by Hip-Hop artist Common. Released in 2005 and credited as one of Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, this seminal record is one of the, if not the, best rap albums I have ever heard and for very good reason. Be marked a turning point in my life for the sole reason that it completely changed my outlook on Hip-Hop as a genre. Admittedly, I was very quick to dismiss Hip–Hop as a real art form, having come to this conclusion by merely listening to tracks that entered the UK Top 40.

Upon listening to the whole of Be however, it was then that I realised how powerful rap could be as a medium to challenge racial and political oppression:

The corner was our magic, our music, our politics

Fires raised as tribal dancers and

war cries that broke out on different corners

Power to the people, black power, black is beautiful – The Corner

Waiting for the Lord to rise, I look into my daughter’s eyes

And realize I’ma learn through her

The Messiah, might even return through her

If I’ma do it, I gotta change the world through her – Be (Intro)

I wonder if these whack ni**as realize they whack

And they the reason that my people say they tired of rap

Inspired by black Muslims and Christians

Pushin’ cutlasses, dope, and other traditions  – Chi-City


These are just some of the lyrics that really made an impression. Common’s elegant and moving words made me view Rap for what is it really is – a form of poetry. Black power, black is beautiful – words that are so important in present times.

Opening track ‘Be’ is the jewel of the album. The use of violins within rap was something I had never heard, nor  associated with Hip-Hop before. However, Common mastered this beautifully. The violins heard in the opener compliment the powerful rap verse and punchy bass notes beautifully, creating an all-round uplifting sound.

Common’s Be inspired me look to at lyrics with a critical mind, whilst appreciating the rhythm and rhyme that artists so thoughtfully attach with them.

Do you have an album that changed your life? Send your story to HumanityHallows.Editor@gmail.com

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