Rapper Common To Perform With Chicago Symphony Orchestra | WBEZ
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Rapper Common To Perform With Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Hip-hop will grace the stage at a classical music hall Monday night in downtown Chicago.

The mashup is Grammy-award winning rapper Common performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Steven Reineke.

Common, a native of Chicago’s South Side, has collaborated with other symphonies around the country and wanted to bring the experience to his hometown.

“It kind of is like the experience of why music is such a beautiful expression and a beautiful connection to humankind because hip-hop as we know is spurned and the seed is the black and Latino experience. And the symphonies I’ve experienced wasn’t full of people of color,” said Common. “And getting to merge hip-hop with the orchestra, you’re bringing two different worlds together.”

And not just in terms of cultural differences, but in the approach to music.

“Hip-hop has a spontaneity to it and a freedom to it whereas orchestras and symphonies perform with written music, so you know what bar you're going to end. It makes me stay on my toes,” he said.

Common said some of the songs he’ll perform with CSO are the Oscar-winning “Glory,” “The Light,” “The Corner,” “Go” and a new song, “God is Love,” from the new album Let Love Have the Last Word, which will be out later this summer.

“It reminds me of how big the music can be and how dynamic the music can be, and it’s no boundaries when it comes to being an artist and being a hip-hop artist,” Common said. “It makes me think bigger.”

In 1992, Common released his first album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and has had a long career in music and acting.

Monday night’s event is a fundraiser for the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on on Twitter @NatalieYMoore.

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