Common brought laser focus to his hushed, smoldering performance of “Black America Again” Thursday on The Tonight Show. Decked out in a grey hoodie, the rapper launched into the politically and racially charged track: “Trayvon’ll never get to be an older man,” he observed. “Black children, they childhood stole from them/ Robbed of our names and our language, stole again.”
Backed by the Roots and a string section, all wearing hoodies, Common maneuvered through the song’s limber rhythmic shifts, touching on Black Lives Matter, the Flint water crisis, Sandra Bland and mass incarceration. Guest singer BJ the Chicago Kid recreated Stevie Wonder’s original soulful hook.
“See black people in the future/ We wasn’t shipped here to rob and shoot ya,” Common flowed. “We hold these truths to be self-evident/ All men and women were created equal, including black Americans.”
“Black America Again” is the title track to Common’s upcoming 11th LP, out November 4th. The rapper recently released a haunting video for the song, which opens with footage of Alton Sterling killed by Baton Rouge, Louisiana police. Earlier this week, Common teased the new LP with the gentle “Red Wine,” featuring the Internet’s Syd and singer Elena Pinderhughes.