In a performance that combines the personal and poetic with the literary and the lyrical, Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe-winning artist Common spins something entirely new and bold, for both his old-school fans and those new to one of hip hop’s most essential voices. This is Bluebird Memories, part of Audible’s Words + Music that blends storytelling, music, and performance to create a one-of-a-kind listening experience.
Written and conceived by Common with Awoye Timpo and NSangou Njikam, originally recorded live at The Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City and backed by a world-class band including special guest appearance by Robert Glasper and ensemble of vocalists, Bluebird Memories tracks Common’s intimate journey from childhood to manhood. At its heart, serving as both an open letter to his estranged father, and a personal meditation on the quest for greater self-understanding, self-worth, and connection to the world that surrounds him.
As a young artist, introduced to the work of literary icons from James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks to Rakim and Melle Mel, Common would grow to use their works as motivation and a high-water mark for what would become his life in words. In a performance that recounts stories about growing up in Chicago, discovering hip hop, longing for a consistent father, and his awakening into Black consciousness, the evolution of Common, as son, as man, artist, and activist is all here, unpacked and laid bare.
At just under two hours, Bluebird Memories is constantly in motion, soaring with emotion and pulsing with raw vitality. Seamlessly blending, stretching, and playing with forms, Common slides between poetry and candid conversation, kicks into one of his classic tracks, and backs out into a moment of nearly silent reflection. For those hip-hop heads, the treat of hearing Common bounce between bars of his own self-admitted cringey party raps, to rapturously reciting classic hip hop’s most revered verses is a joy to behold. (Yes, bumping human beatbox included). In a performance that calls forth the spirit and legacy of so many artists, thinkers, and heroes who informed both his artistry and personal philosophy, Common invites listeners to experience him in his totality. A finely tuned instrument capable of conveying a sweeping breadth of power, range and tone. Listen to a modern icon deliver at the top of his craft.