Common, Award Winning Artist, Actor & Producer
Common talks about how he turned his passion for rap into a career as a hip-hop artist, family, equality and activating change.
- I think when we lift each other up to a equal place, like it's a harmony there. Let everybody feel loved and feel valued, and feel wanted. I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My home and my foundation has been my mother. She really taught me how to love by example, and in some ways could be very disciplinarian, like it made me look at women and know that hey, I see a boss right here. My first entry into writing and music was because of my love for poets like Dr. Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. And I wrote my first rap when I was 12 years old. And really, that dream just sat in my heart from that moment on, and I wanna be a hip hop artist. Knowing that my mother worked hard for me to be able to get into college, she really barely knew I even rapped. It was a tough back and forth, but my mother saw that I truly was sincere and passionate. She just embraced it, and then we came to an agreement like if things didn't pop off in two years, then I'd go back to school. But I guess she put her prayers in, 'cause I'm still working at it. I wrote this story, a love story, about a woman, but it's really about hip hop evolving to some of the gangster west coast to becoming corporate and losing some of the integrity. And when I'm rapping it in the studio, my boy was listening and frowning the whole time. It was like, sounded like a sappy love song to him and it wasn't supposedly cool to do that, right? I wanted to show that to my friends and in hip hop and especially as black men and we should be able to express love and still be able to be yourself and be respected. Selma was a life changing experience for me. I really started to say, okay, I have to identify things that I wanna see change and start walking towards those things. Seeing Ava Duvernay being our leader and reminding me of my mother, but then to learn about the people of the civil rights movement, the women who would sacrifice their lives so that we could live better lives. Okay, I'm a conscious artist, but what am I doing that's activating a change? And whatever I was doing, I knew I could do more. ♪ When it go down we woman and man up ♪ ♪ They say stay down and we stand up ♪ ♪ Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up ♪ ♪ King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up ♪ ♪ Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany ♪ ♪ Now we right the wrongs in history ♪ ♪ Glory ♪ I decided to put my creativity and energy towards activism. I just took the idea, how this world is missing the equality that women deserve, so I wrote this for saying, man, if we had women taking over the world, the world would get better. I do wanna put hope and optimism and love out there. What I do in my art is always to honor women and to uplift them, and we as men should be courageous enough to do it. I wanna do that with my music and empower women because I just believe that's the best thing, that's the right thing.
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