Common is intent on setting the mood here, giving Syd plenty of space to croon with the help of a string section. The MC doesn’t enter the song until nearly the two-minute mark. “Used to be a hooper, now I’m a hoper,” Common raps. “Thoughts I bring to life like an ultrasound/ I’m bound to the underground, breaking walls down for the black and brown/ A activist is active now.” He then passes the baton to Pinderhughes, who brings the song to a romantic close: “You could just stay for the night/ Here, let me turn down the lights.”
Syd and Pinderhughes are just two of the many singers that Common enlisted for Black America Again. The album also includes Stevie Wonder, Marsha Ambrosius, John Legend and Bilal; a singer is credited on almost every non-interlude.
Last month, the rapper unveiled the stark video for his politically charged title track. The stark video opened with footage of Alton Sterling killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and later blended archival footage with meditative shots of black men and women in the throes of grief or intense contemplation.
Black America Again is due on November 4th.