Bilal and Derrick Hodge repped Philly at Common's incredible White House Tiny Desk Concert - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Bilal, Common and Robert Glasper perform in the White House for NPR Music | photo by Becky Harlan | via

With President Barack Obama’s South by South Lawn concert going down this week, the folks at NPR Music took a unique angle into their Tiny Desk Concert series. They actually staged and shot a session inside the confines of the White House.

The video, out yesterday, features socially-minded rapper Common, who had a remarkable band backing him up. In addition to acclaimed keyboard player Robert Glasper, trumpet player Keyon Harrold, flautist Elena Pinderhughes and drummer Karriem Riggins, there were two Philadelphia natives in the mix: Derrick Hodge on bass (who just released his great new record The Second) and Bilal Oliver, who Common introduces as “an incredible vocalist, artist, writer, voice and spirit.”

After opening with “I Used To Love H.E.R.” from Common’s 1994 album Resurrection, Bilal joins the crew and the setlist goes all new. First, it’s the breathtaking “Letter to the Free” – which Common says appears in the Netflix documentart 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay. “It’s about the 13th amendment, which still says slavery is alive if you are a criminal,” says Common. “This whole piece is about mass incarceration.”

Bilal also sings the hook on “The Day The Women Took Over.” Watch Common and crew’s Tiny Desk performance in its entirety below.

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