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Join an uncommon revolution

Devoid of the clichés of “homies and hos,” you’ll find what you’ve been missing in contemporary hip hop: grooveable songs that maintain their integrity and actually inspire you to care about the music again. By Carissa Horner
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“We ‘bout to change the mentality, of old world reality, one where teachers and lawyers will trade salaries, And liquor stores are razed to make way for art galleries...”

If these words sound like they’re about to incite a revolution, it’s because they are.  And you’re not too late to join in.

The self-titled album from Seattle-based hip-hop artists Common Market is filled with messages of empowerment and vocals that thrive with the desire to achieve a greater purpose — a refreshing surprise in a genre that in the last several years has seemed to be void of any real substance.

Emcee RA Scion (Ryan Abeo) and Producer Sabzi (Saba Mohajerjasbi), who has also received acclaim as one half of the Blue Scholars, aren’t oblivious to the potential in this rebirth of hip hop.  While their message is unabashed in taking rhyme to a progressive state, letting us know, “You’re right here — soul wide open to rap” (from track 1, “Refresh”), they harmoniously integrate influences of hip hop and rap from the early and mid ’90s.

Reflecting on what RA and Sabzi laughingly refer to as “the pre-jiggy days,” RA says, “Some things about my love of hip hop can never be articulated.  And that’s how most people feel about the music that was a soundtrack to their youth.  It is what motivated me and was a part of me through the changes and transformations of growing up.  It’s what I identify with.”

But don’t let their fondness of hard-hitting groups like 2 Live Crew and their memories of staying up into the wee hours to catch the then elusive novelty that was “Yo! MTV raps,” turn you off.  Common Market blends socially and politically relevant lyrics with intricately sculpted melodies and beats you can shake your butt to.

“Now is a time of change, there is a true spirit of change — real and tangible — in our society,” says RA, “We want to help create a soundtrack to that movement.  And the most important element for that to happen, while the message is important, is that the music has to be good.  People have to be able to move to it.  It has to touch you, motivate you to move into action.  And it’s gotta be relevant.”

In addition to RA’s raw and unapologetic rhymes on topics from economics and anti-war sentiment in “Every Last One,” to monogamy and his love for the women who have helped shape who he is in “Love One,” a key ingredient in Common Market’s success is Sabzi’s classical training as a pianist. Undeniable talent makes this album incredibly musical — we’re not talking 12 guys with mics and a drum machine here. 

The creativity in their mixing also appeals to what they consider their undefined demographic — everyone from alienated suburban youth to old hip-hop fans.  A banging, New York sound collides with the old soul sound of groups like the Isley Brothers, and still makes you want to perk up and move to the steady march of Common Market believers.

Common Market has easily transformed itself from “Wow, this group actually doesn’t suck” — what they say is the standard for getting noticed in Seattle — to “These guys are on fire, and they’re about to blow up.”

Their songs, especially track one, “Refresh” take you back to a time when playing in the spray from your corner’s fire hydrant was the highlight of the family barbecue.  It’s hip hop of a happier, more well-adjusted generation. One whose faith (RA Scion and Sabzi originally united as fellow members of the Baha’i faith) and belief in human potential take what would otherwise be incredibly catchy music to a higher level. And be sure, the hook is there. I dare you to try dancing to track 2, “Push,” without imagining you’re on your way to a heavyweight fight.

Every song on the album paints its own detailed portrait of life’s intricacies and our search for enlightenment. A message that all of us can embrace.

If you want to remember the first time you discovered your own brand of underground music that was waiting to erupt — maybe it was your first mix tape that included Run DMC or Digital Underground — pick up this album.  Devoid of the clichés of “homies and hos,” you’ll find what you’ve been missing in contemporary hip hop: grooveable songs that maintain their integrity and actually inspire you to care about the music again.

For more information on Common Market, visit: .