Introducing the first of many of The Ankle Breaker’s new features to lead you astray from the longform posts that often cover the hallowed walls of the blog. I’ve decided to introduce an Pick Of The Week segment, drawing on new releases and old gems.
The inaugural album of the week is a soul/hip-hop classic from one the most consistent yet slightly overlooked in the game, Common. Ifirst discovered Common from his minor cameo on Kanye West’s Late Registration on the track ‘Coming Home‘. Surprisingly, with the likes of Ne-Yo, Usher, John Legend, Frank Ocean and more being the popular RnB/Soul names, Common has often been taken for granted in the conversation, even though his music bares with it a timeless and uniquely powerful feel. Coming from Chicago he joins a number of famed rappers, many of whom he has worked with, especially during his tenure between 2004-2011 with Windy City native Kanye West’s label GOOD music.
Like Water For Chocolate was Common’s fourth studio album from way back in 2000, yet it was this album that propelled him to the mainstream. The title is drawn from the 1992 novel of the same name which was later adapted into a film. There are themes of social injustice and oppression throughout, narrated by Common’s soothing but piercing voice and intelligent lyrics ‘We make this movement towards freedom for all those who have been oppressed and all those in the struggle’. What set this album out from other attempts at blending soul with rap, was its seamless production and incredible instrumentals, such as the simple undertone set to the penultimate track ‘Pops Rap III….All My Children’ or the more spirited vibes showcased on ‘The Light’ (Which was nominated for a Grammy). This feature of the album is in large part down to the legendary J.Dilla as well as D’Angelo, DJ Premier and more, all of whom applied their productional expertise to develop this musical experience. My pick from the album is the poignant track ‘A Song For Assata’ which details the struggle of Assata Shakur, a figurehead in the Black rights movement and a member of the Black Panthers and also Tupac Shakur’s auntie. It features soul mogul Cee-Lo Green who pieces together Common’s biographical breakdown of the revolutionary’s life with a powerful hook.