Common Takes An MC From The Streets To The Tonight Show For A True Cypher
Anybody who has ever attended a Common concert knows that the Chicago, Illinois veteran is one of the best improvisers with the mic. For years, Comm’ has impressed audiences with his knowledge of local landmarks, street names, and fun facts, no matter in what city he was performing. Meanwhile, even with one of the most respected and diverse trophy cases in the business, Common takes the art form of freestyling with him. The MC who bodied The Wake Up Show with Sway & King Tech and rocked the mic at Fat Beats in 1997 keeps that hunger alive in showing that he stays in search of the right rhyme.
Last month, Common was strolling the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana when he came upon Ray Wimley, a local MC. The artist there for Essence Fest listened to Ray kick his rhymes, which used people watching as props for his improvisational freestyle. Amused and inspired, Common took the mic and joined in for what became a viral Hip-Hop moment.
As an “Unsigned Hype” column alum, Common knows the importance of getting a co-sign from a trusted source. Gearing up for this month’s Let Love album (August 30), he brought Ray with him to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In Common’s latest guest spot, he and Ray both have an opportunity to demonstrate off-the-dome rhymes. The writers’ staff gives the two MCs some randomly-selected challenging and quirky selections, while The Roots play along. In his display of bars, the Chi City MC makes a reference to “Chrissy Snow” from Three’s Company. During the interview with Jimmy, Common revealed that he had a longtime crush on the TV character played bu Suzanne Somers.
They call this segment, “Wheel Of Freestyle.” Jimmy Fallon participates as well. More than three years ago, he did a memorable “Box Of Freestyle” spot with R.A. The Rugged Man protege A-F-R-O.
As expected, Common and Ray rise to the occasion, before taking their show into the crowd and bringing some of that N.O. viral moment to the New York City studios.
August 30’s Let Love includes the lead video single “HER Love.” That song continues the “I Used To Love H.E.R.” metaphor tradition that Common began more than 25 years ago. The 2019 take features production by the late J Dilla. In June, the MC debuted the track at the Roots Picnic.
#BonusBeat: Common and Swizz Beatz’ performed video single “Hercules”: