August Greene, the hip-hop-soul supergroup consisting of Common and musicians Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper, used their Tiny Desk Concert appearance at the NPR offices to not just deliver in inspiring, soulful performance, but to promote equality as well.
As Common explains at the outset of the performance, the collective has made it a mission to foreground women in their performances. To that end, they highlighted the soulful talents of singers Andra Day, Brandy, and Maimouna Youssef, who took the lead in performing “Stand Up For Something,” the Marshall soundtrack standout single, a cover of “Optimistic” from Sounds Of Blackness, and the as-yet-unreleased “Practice” respectively. The set is capped off by the upcoming song “Let Go.”
The group’s core, formed of frequent collaborators, was backed up by a collective of Burniss Travis, Samora Pinderhughes, and DJ Dummy, who provide support on bass, additional vocals, and of course, turntables. Common sounds reinvigorated lyrically, spitting energetic and uplifting bars, while Youssef wows the crowd with her own emphatic rhymes.
The performance was August Greene’s second Tiny Desk appearance after they showed up at a special set at the White House in 2016, where they debuted the Emmy Award-winning “Letter to the Free,” Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th.