La Mascara Mexicana

Los Straightjackets reinterprets some American and Brit rock and soul and Common finds Forever.

What's wonderful about these songs is that Common is able to link the public and the private — their characters have problems that speak to the larger struggle, enabling Common to comment on social problems without seeming didactic. The songs' inhabitants search for meaning, but more often than not find that their dreams lead them astray.

Of course, the ultimate fallen dream for black America is the idea of equality, and Common eloquently speaks on that in the excellent "U Black, Maybe." He claims that "a white man's yes is a black man's maybe," but unlike in previous generations, the enemy is as likely to wear a BAPE hoodie as a KKK hood. He illustrates this by chronicling the rise and fall of a basketball player who is gunned down by jealous friends, and concludes the song with a spoken-word outro stating, "We talk about situations of people of color, and because you are that color, you endure obstacles and opposition, and not all the time from other nationalities, sometimes it comes from your kind, or maybe even your own mind."

Los Straitjackets: Fiesta!
Los Straitjackets: Fiesta!
Common: His insightful music is  anything but.
Common: His insightful music is anything but.


$12. 314-621-7880. and $27.50 to $35. 314-726-6161.
10 p.m. Friday, September 14. Beale On Broadway, 701 South Broadway
8 p.m. Wednesday, September 19. Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard.

It's doubtful that any of Finding Forever's insight would change the right's estimation of hip-hop. Subtlety, complexity and context are lost when you're waging a race war. And for those who traffic in fear and innuendo, thoughtful rappers such as Common and Nas are just angry black men talking up guns, hos and bitches. These conservative pundits aren't attacking obscenity in hip-hop, they're targeting hip-hop. Take nothing for granted. — Sam Chennault 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 19. Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $27.50 to $35. 314-726-6161.

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