I Used to Love Him: Common’s “Ghetto Dreams”

Last week, blogger Necole Bitchie posted rapper Common’s new song “Ghetto Dreams” that was quite a deviation from the image he’s purveyed in the past. It’s also, lyrically, repugnant especially for a rapper that people have deemed “conscious”. At one point, I deemed Common “conscious” but I was younger then. It’s been a long time since I considered Common conscious about anything. This song just proves my point.

Common went on the defensive himself when talking about this song, and like a hit dog, he hollered:

“It was coming from me, but it was also the voice of many others.[…]I was like, ‘I want a b*tch that look good and cook good.’ I was just thinking about being in the ‘hood, what I want, and then the song goes on from there, ‘Cinderella fancy, but she still look ‘hood.’” Right there I’m saying, ‘Look, I want a bad woman.’ She look raw and she could cook and she could get very elegant, but at the same token she has the know-how in the street. I wrote it about someone in the neighborhood that got a dream of reaching a higher level and they’re in that process, and their woman is really like the correlation and the parallel and the symbol to that progress. It was coming from me, but it was also the voice of many others.”

Necole featured some of the lyrics. They really are quite romantic *end sarcasm*:

“That says a lot about her. She could get high, you might get high with her, she might drink, smoke a jay with her, but at the end of the day, she still got her Bible there.[…][And]what woman in America don’t love Beyoncé?”

If this weren’t a dysfunctional relationship, then I could totally get it. Like my husband and I we workout together on occassion. We exchange info about lifting and exercises, but we occasionally have a Dairy Queen Blizzard or pig out on a weekend together. It’s not perfect, but then again, having the occassional blizzard has not been shown to be the kind of relationship that leaves black women and children abandoned. The relationship Common is describing is about as sustainable as bluefin tuna fishing: it’s not.

I don’t feel all that betrayed by Common’s turncoat act. Wu-Tang said it best with “Cash rules everything around me/C.R.E.A.M. get the the money/dolla dolla bill, y’all”. Common just needs to pay the bills. I saw this coming the minute he got in with Kanye West. The disdain that Kanye West has for women–black women in particular–is legendary. Common picked which side of the battle lines he was going to be on the minute he started working with him.

What is also irritating about this song is the assumption that everyone–specifically every man–who lives in a ghetto is going to be dreaming about this materialistic shit. I get that you have some cats who will be thinking this way, but I would think that if someone were living in abject poverty, their “ghetto dreams” would include getting out, not having to attend another funeral, not having to bury another friend or relative, having food for their children, not living with rats and/or insects, not having to worry about rape or other forms of violence and tyranny and other such horrific acts of inhumanity. Yes, there are some people who dream about materialistic things, but do they really represent an entire group of people? Common is a good rapper, and he missed the opportunity to really shine by going for a juvenile song full of juvenile sentiment.

As for calling women–and we all know it’s black women who are taking this one on the chin AGAIN–in this song… Meh, I’m not surprised. The writing on the wall for me came many years ago. Common’s schtick was to appeal to be different from other rappers, but they all had the same thing in common: kyriarchy.<

Now that Common’s told us what people he doesn’t give two shits about want, I’d like to tell him what I want: I want a rapper who won’t pretend to be a good, decent, conscious “brother” rapping about “bitches” and drugs like it was the best thing since sliced bread. I’d like a rapper who won’t sell his soul for money and shed his image–that was supposed to be so much better and more righteous than all the others’–the minute he starts making some money.

Common, that ain’t you.

P.S. As for his mention of Beyonce… I’ve chosen to leave that alone because that’s just pathetic. He sounds like someone’s out of touch dad trying to be in touch.