I recently came across a vinyl online that I wasn’t on the hunt for, but when I saw it, I had to have it. It is one that may be one of the most creative albums made by a master poet. It’s Be, by Common. As soon as I saw I instantly started humming the bass line to its opening track, Be. It is infectious, jazzy, and produced with lots of soul. Its full of hooking beats, keyboards, and a bunch of walking bass.
This album sent me back almost 10 years ago when it was released in 2005. Among many other styles of music, I was into classic and poetic hip hop. The kind of rap that doesn’t use made up words to rhyme and has personal storylines and is full emotional arcs. Common has been put into the same class of artist like Tupac Shakur, Saul Williams, Black Thought, The Roots, Lyrics Born, De La Soul, Eryka Badu, A Tribe Called Quest, and Blackalicious (See V&W#5). I spent a lot of time with friends driving around blasting this album with the windows down on night time drives after work. Almost like a scene the television sitcom That 70’s Show, we would hang out in basements lounging on couches while we played this CD until we played it so much, it started skipping. After a few drinks, we would even start singing along and air-playing the drumbeats and other instruments on the album. This album was a soundtrack to a lot of fun nights shared with good people. I recently spoke with one of these friends who now has a young son. He told me that his son knows how to move through songs on his itunes and always finds Be by Common and when he does, he always stops searching and dances to the songs. I thought it was a true sign that good music will always please accepting ears regardless of age, race, or whatever else divides the masses. Common began his career in 1992 and continues to put out albums almost every two years. Today he may be more recognizable for his film and TV career, but underneath his great acting work on AMC’s hit show Hell on Wheels, his voice and lyrical prowess shines through. As this album spins with regularity on my turntable pairing wine with it can be difficult, but I tend to settle on Bordeaux.
Like Common whose deep voice, deep lyrics, and layers of soul, Bordeaux is rich in those characteristics as well. Always a blend of grapes layered in to achieve a certain dominance and derived from fundamentals passed down from generation to generation, it is a wine truly at the top of the poetic spectrum. One of my favorites that I recently dug out of my cellar was a 2003 Chateau Bouscaut from the Bordeaux region of Pessac-Leognon. At 11 years old, I must say it is drinking incredibly and is a perfect match for Common. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. 53% is Merlot and it is evident in the sultriness of this red. It adds romance and mystery. 40% is Cabernet Sauvignon, the ship carrying this wine along its storyline through maturity. 7% of the wine is Malbec which brings depth and backbone, that grit and extra muscle.
“…Be, be here, be there, be that, be this
Be grateful for life, be grateful to life
Be gleeful every day…”