On Thursday, March 8, the African Getdown took over the Absolut Elyx house in Los Angeles, honoring the global impact of African culture and recognizing the continent’s creative impact in the United States. The evening began at the Women’s Club of Hollywood, which was fitting on International Women’s Day. From there, attendees were escorted via shuttle to and from this decadent house in the hills.
The anticipation rose as the short ride came to an end. Attendees from industries all across the board were decked out in the most gorgeous African-style outfits. I entered the mansion (actually the home of Absolut Elyx CEO Jonas Tahlin) and was immediately swept away by all the love, joy and positive energy in the room.
One look up and I found Common, sporting a dashiki, looking like royalty. This was a palace, and Common was the king. I watched from afar as he was pulled left and right for photos. The poor guy couldn’t make it three feet without getting approached.
Amidst the chatter, the upscale food and drinks could not have come at a better time in the work week. After a quick intro, Common graced us with some words of his own. Being an Academy Award–winning artist and one of the most well-respected MCs in hip-hop means that, when Common speaks, the world listens.
Keeping it short and concise, Common, real name Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., paid tribute to his roots, breaking down barriers of color and culture in the same way he has throughout his career. This included a shout-out to NFL athlete Colin Kaepernick, whom he praised for standing up for what’s right and fighting against injustice. Whether he’s fulfilling the role of a rapper, actor, poet or film producer, Common has repeatedly proven himself to be a voice of the people.
“I’m asking my African brothers and sisters that reached North America, we need y’all in this plight stronger than ever,” Common said during his speech. “We need you to contribute artistically, politically and policy ways; contribute your minds towards freeing the people over here too and we will work with you to make sure that each and every person on the continent can be free.”
There was simply no one better suited to host the evening. Common was joined by South Africa’s No. 1 artist DJ Heavy K, plus Deana J. Becker, Luthando “Loot Love” Shosha, Tayanda Abethe, Sammi Rotibi, KANJA Muchoki, YoungBeardo, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard, Clemmons Twins (Gary and Jason Clemmons), and more.