You may be (as I am) something less than an expert on the rich diversity of musical landscapes that go by the name of Hip Hop. But I defy you not to notice the joy and goodwill of August Greene. This ensemble, founded by Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins, first came together in 2016 at an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in the White House. That show’s worth a listen too: it’s a joy to witness Common’s deep respect and admiration for women. And the positive message rises to a new heights in today’s clip (from 2018), when four astonishing female vocalists join the group on four different tracks, each one somehow more uplifting than the last.
But this isn’t just feel-good music (although it does feel good!). You’ll also hear so much wisdom, memory of trauma, and moral conviction in the infectious beats and the wonder of Common’s freestyle. The show is long, but hang in there: Andra Day’s voice (24:45) blows the roof off the NPR studios when she sings, “It all means nothing if you don’t stand up for something, and I will stand up for you.”