Legendary rapper Common will read the Ta Nehisi Coates book Between The World And Me live at the Apollo theater this April. The 2015 book is a less than optimistic meditation on race relations in America premised as a long-form letter to the author’s teenage son. And having a major hip-hop star do the reading instead of an actor, community leader, or activist is not a mere coincidence or publicity stunt. In an interview with Rolling Stone after the release of the book, Coates explained the lyrical nature of his writing and overall worldview was heavily inspired by the world of hip-hop lyrics.
“One of the constant questions I get is ‘Why are you so depressing? Why are you so dark? What about hope?’ But hope is not very important in hip-hop. I mean, there are certainly hopeful songs, but if you listen to Illmatic, hope is not a very important sentiment. Hope has very little to do with Mobb Deep. I remember when Nas said on a Mobb Deep song, ‘Shoot at the clouds, feels like the holy beast is watching us.’ I don’t know if Nas would describe himself as an atheist, but the music has a very atheistic, dark feel to it. That shaped me a lot.”
The contrast of having a rapper like Common who is more known for his positive “love and life focused” philosophy than the fatalism inherent in Coates work should make for an interesting combination. The performance will take place on April, 2 at the Apollo theater and will also feature music by Jason Moran. Tickets are available here.