Feeling desensitized regarding today’s political and racial realities? Suffering from #livesmatter overload? Get re-inspired and educated, with a treat of a performance from recording artist Common. The historic NPR event takes its acclaimed Tiny Desk Concert program to the White House Library, a starkly formal setting compared to the show’s homy broadcast headquarters.
The politics of modern slavery
Encompassing a number of the issues affecting politics in America, Common delivers excellent contextualization on relevant topics. Perhaps the most informative song in this set is “Letter to the Free.” It’s an enlightening synopsis of mass incarceration, calling for America to address the 13th amendment, what he calls a legal loophole for slavery. For this song, singer Bilal joins Common and his band of colleagues; Keyon Harrold on trumpet, Elaina on flute, Derrick Hodge on bass guitar, Karriem Riggins on drums, and Robert Glasper on the keyboard.
Common takes on other politicized subjects, even envisioning a world where woman’s sustaining spirit rules. In the song “The Day Woman Took Over” imagines an era of female leadership, nurturing mankind through its most trying times of social and economical upheaval.
The performance, one of many featured for the White House’s South by South Lawn festival, and its topics are intentional in their timing, just weeks before the nation’s first African-American president could be turning over his office to the first female president. At the close of his second term, President Barack Obama has established plans to pursue prison reform in his post-presidential career.
Watch the full video below.