Music Review: A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1)

reviewed by Damon Orion

A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1)

SPIRITUALITY, POLITICS, HOPE, AND OUTRAGE all swirl together in Chicago-born rapper Common’s newest work. At the same time that these jazz-inflected hip-hop musings focus on the plague and racial injustice of recent times, A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1) is ultimately a loving prayer for peace, sanity, and beauty.

“Our ancestors saw us in the future, in perfect, perfect beams of light—a sacred prophecy of what’s possible,” proclaims poet Jessica Care Moore in the album’s introduction. “When the script is Sanskrit in the palms of our worship, the same hands we go to work with put the real work in: meditation and stillness so your focus is the realest.”

At several points throughout A Beautiful Revolution, Common puts biblical imagery in a more modern context. He namechecks Cassius Clay alongside “The Potter” (a name he apparently has given to The Creator) and mixes references to musicians like Bob Marley and Mahalia with allusions to the Book of Revelation. In “Fallin’,” he declares, “We, the tribe of Levi, cut them jeans knee-high. I think that it would be wise to read the Book of Elijah Mohammad.”

Perhaps Revolution’s most inspired offering is the hard-edged “Riot in My Mind,” which boasts a cameo from Public Enemy’s Chuck D and a winning hook delivered by Lenny Kravitz. Some eloquent jazz guitar quips from Isaiah Sharkey bookend the song, framing this tale of war with fleeting moments of peace. It’s a juxtaposition that epitomizes the essence of the album: As Common puts it in “A Place in This World,” “I know there’s light at the end of the struggle. Revolution and love is like a couple.”

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