A Conversation with Common: ‘I Want to Become One of the Greats’

It has been nearly 20 years since the “conscious rapper” Common released his debut album, yet he continues to treat his fans to new and deeper insights into why he is, and will remain, a cultural icon.

–And it just keeps getting better.

This handsome and grounded multi-talent has had so much success of late, 2011 might as well just be called The Year of Common Sense.

Not only did his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, recently debut on the prestigious New York Times Best Sellers List, but Common the actor followed up his 2010 success starring opposite Queen Latifah in Just Wright, by turning up the heat beneath his thespian aspirations. He appeared in BET’s sizzling new, “Single Ladies,” has a recurring role in AMC’s dramatic western, “Hell on Wheels,” is currently promoting his first voice-over role in the animated feature Happy Feet Two, and was pegged to star in Quentin Tarantino’s gritty (what else?) western Django.

All that, and Common made time for the studio. His 12th album, The Dreamer, the Believer drops on December 20th-just in time for one of my loved ones to make it an extra special Christmas gift (hint, hint).

Common recently sat down with me to speak on the things he’s been learning along the way:

What is your purpose?

My purpose is to encourage love. Is to enlighten and inspire people to love…to be free and loving themselves. My purpose is to bring as many people closer to God as possible.

If self esteem was measured on a scale of 0-100, where is yours today, and where was it at at the lowest it’s ever been?

Today 97. The lowest about a 30. I had a breakup with Erykah Badu and my esteem was low. I think around that time I released an album called Electric Circus and it didn’t do well. People were talking a lot of stuff about it but the talk didn’t really affect me as much. I don’t really let how people are talking affect me too much.

How did you climb back up from there?

I really had to get to a place where I wasn’t trying to dim my light to please the person next to me. You have to love yourself strongly. Love God, love yourself, then love others. You can’t defy yourself in your generosity to others.

Do you have another book in you?

I do have another book in me. I will write another one at some point because there are things to talk about that can inspire and give people hope. I recently had a woman at the airport stop me…She put her daughter on the phone to tell me how she got through a breakup by reading my book [I Like You, But I Love Me]. She said, “As soon as I read it it made me realize I’m okay. Other people go through this.” I know I have more experiences to share and give a perspective on. I realize that art can really provide motivation for people.

When something awesome happens in your life, who do you call?

If I’m in a relationship, I call that person. My assistant is someone I’m really close with, so I’ll call that person. There are a couple of best friends of mine from Chicago I call. I’ll call my mother. I’ll definitely call her. She may be the first.

Why aren’t you married?

I would like to be married. I’m really at that point in my life where I would like to settle down and have a family. I don’t know why I haven’t married yet. God hasn’t put that right there for me yet but I know it will happen. The power of intention will bring that about.

Speaking of the power of intention, was there ever something you initially thought was impossible, yet you used the power of intention to bring that something into being?

I do believe where I am as an actor, I really put my intention towards these things. There are a lot of ways to climb, and I have a long way to go. I want to become one of the greats. My intention is there, and I believe that’s a place where i’m seeing it happen. That’s why I named my album The Dreamer, the Believer, because of that. Because when you dream you gotta believe in it with all your being.

What song on The Dreamer, the Believer would change my life if I really listened to it?

Blue Sky would help motivate your life and The Believer would solidify changing your life.

–by Kathleen Cross for rollingout.com


Leave a Reply