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Hip-Hop Trio Seeks “Common Ground”

To those in the rap game, State College is a fractured scene. In true musical Adam Smith philosophy, the hip-hop culture has been suppressed by self-interest and hit-it-big egos of local rappers. But for the entertainment trio, Common Ground, being the glue that binds the music scene together is just as rewarding as making that Jay-Z cash flow.

“Not one of us in this crew aspire to be superstars,” said Common Ground rapper, Joe Smoke. “We like the music and we like to share, there are no ulterior motives in representing that hip-hop lifestyle.”

For the members of Common Ground, it’s that lifestyle of music that molds their definition of a performer. Building a community is the cornerstone in building a name for themselves. This “all for one and one for all” message shines through their lyricism and spills over into Common Ground’s dedication to bringing the jumper cables to the rap scene.

It’s that Bink! philosophy of doing what you love cause you love it and if you play your cards right, everyone else starts loving it too.

The CG crew has roots that reach from Joe Smoke’s upbringing in New Orleans to T.I.G and Rankstar’s North Philly heritage. However diverse the background, Common Ground sticks true to their name by extracting the life-blood that brings their beats to life.

Jazz and classical concert compositions have indoctrinated Joe Smoke and T.I.G in music from a young age. The free-form, rag-time style of Southern soul struck a chord with the young artists and has continued to play a role in their musical endeavors to this day.

“Music can be anything that makes noise,” said Joe Smoke. He put the ubiquity of art into simple terms as he tapped a nickel on a table at a symmetrical 4-4 tempo. “Rhythm is everywhere, man.”

Since the elements of music are everywhere, the CG crew looks at everything as a stage. Though Common Ground has played countless venues like The Brewery, Jamaica Junction and even an opening spot for Mac Miller; cafes, subways and Uni-mart store fronts remain the quintessential backdrop for spitting a quick freestyle.

Their 2011 track, “Walk With Me,” is a musical representation of their all-inclusive mission statement. With raw, trumpet samples under witty lyricism, Common Ground gives a call to the rap community to drop the selfish struggle and “come and take a walk” with pioneers of hip-hop unity.


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10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

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