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Meaning of the song ‘Invocation’ by ‘Common’

Released: 1997

Common’s track “Invocation” from his fourth studio album “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” is a lyrical journey of self-reflection and observational snapshots of life on the streets, contrasted with the hopes and aspirations of a hip-hop artisan comes face to face with the commercial pressures of the music industry. The layered narrative aims to evoke thought and introspection.

The song opens with a reality-check as Common envisions the afterlife while being profoundly influenced by the soulful music of Stevie Wonder; a clear nod to the blending of different music genres that influence hip-hop. Common’s fusion of various influences epitomizes the convergence of countless cultures and sounds that make up the mosaic of hip-hop.

Common injects a healthy dose of self-awareness and authenticity into his lyrics when he discusses the duality of his life as an artist. He mentions ‘outgrowing the streets’ which is a representation of his maturity and growth as both an individual and as an artist. He spits, “It’s a cold world and niggas need summer”, illustrating the harsh realities of the street life and the desire for better days.

The phrase, “There’s a thin line between war and peace, whores and jeeps”, is a play on reality and materialistic desires, the relentless struggle between good and evil, peace and violence, love and lust. It highlights the conflicts Common has captured from the gritty underbelly of the city.

When he says, “my third eye is like pink eye, seemin’ contagious”, he’s referring to his spiritual enlightenment, his ability to perceive matters beyond the material world. The ‘third eye’ is often associated with spiritual awakening in Eastern philosophies.

Furthermore, the lines “I feel Mexican, hip hop is my garden” symbolize the idea of hip-hop being a fertile ground for cultivating ideas and creativity, similar to a gardener tending to his plants. It could also be a subtle push to promote cultural inclusivity in hip-hop, where everyone regardless of their background, has something unique to offer.

Common gets personal when he narrates the chilling story of his friend Rashad who was shot but survived, saying “And said slugs was still stuck in him, when it rained, it fucked with him”. This vivid imagery personifies the real-life impacts of violence on people’s lives.

The closure of this verse with “I said it’s here” repeated, is a proclamation that his album, his message, and his time have arrived. It signifies Common’s defiance against industry pressures and commercial expectations, an affirmation of his determination to stay true to his artistic integrity and authenticity.

So, “Invocation” is a conscious rap classic with introspective thoughts and vivid street tales, designed to invoke contemplation. As with many of Common’s songs, the reflections he offers serve not only to illustrate his personal journey but also providing insights into the broader socio-cultural landscapes of his time.

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