Truthfully I wanna rhyme like
Common Sense, [But I did five mill’]I ain’t
been rhymin like Common since, quipped Jay-Z on his
song Moment of Clarity. The point is clear; rhyming for the sake of the art
doesnt really pay. But then again Chicago rhyme slinger Common isnt doing so
Surely youve seen Lonnie Rashid Lynn hawking Zunes and Lincoln Navigators, getting his acting on in
flicks like Wanted and American Gangster, and on tour performing
selections from his eight albums. On December 9th he drops his latest
LP set of MP3s, Universal Mind
Control, proving that having the skills can pay the bills.
Common has long embraced his spot as the conscious MC not to
be tested on the mic (ask Ice Cube). Right now the former
Common Sense speaks on how all his corporate sponsorships and acting gigs mean
better music, what he learned making music with the likes of J Dilla and Kanye West, and that
pending album with Q-Tip. Seems like Common is seeing things clearly.
AllHipHop.com: You had people ready for Invincible Summer. Obviously now its Universal Mind Control, what happened?
Common: We was close to finishing, I really was planning on
bringing out the album, in July, and actually the 1st day was June
24th I had in my mind. It became a album [Ed. Note: Invincible Summer was originally announced as an EP.] We was
almost done and
then I got the movie The
Terminator. So I was like, Man I got to do this, so during that process
while I was doing it I couldnt work at the same pace that I was working at. I
had to push it back.
AllHipHop.com: Did the title change reflect a change in the
music as well?
Common: Oh yeah, well the title change happened because
first of all a lot of people, like my mother, would say, Why you gonna still call your album invincible summer? I was still
kinda like look, I like the title, Im
calling it Invincible Summer. But at one point a friend of mine, cause
she heard the album, she like was like, Man, Universal Mind Control, thats what the album feel like. That would be a good title. I felt
that was more fitting for the album, the sound of the album. Ima come with Invincible
Summer at some point.
AllHipHop.com: You had also mentioned that your doing the
movies allows you to do music without caring about the business aspect. Can you
elaborate on that?
Common: First of all Im an artist, so music is the way I
express myself. Man I love music, so when I get a chance to do it Im feeling
grateful. Im looking for the challenge and, for some reason, when I started
taking on acting I felt challenged, a challenge in me as an artist too. It was a new challenge, and I just kept
working on it and working on it and then I finally started getting opportunities
to do some movies.
In the interim I would be working on music, and it felt like
a weight was taken off my back as far as the responsibility of, Man you got to
sell this amount of records, you know or your music has to be so big cause
thats whats sustaining your income, your life. As far as financial things go I felt like that weight was
taken off a little bit. Not that I came in and just started getting super,
super money on the movie side.
Like I said, it did take some of the responsibility off of
music as the only source of income. And now, with me doing more movies its
given me a chance to go out, touring cause I want to. So thats a joy for me
’cause I love music so I want to do it, for the love of it. Thats the reason I
first got into it of course.
We young men so we all think about making a living. You
know we all want to get, get money too.
But I got into Hip-Hop just because I loved it. When I first started
writing, money wasnt even on my mind. So if I can kind of create that same
environment for me as a musician where it aint even no
way or shape about money, thats gon make the music
that much better for me. Its going to allow me to have more fun.
The biggest thing/purpose for me making music at a lot of
points is just to affect people’s lives. Ive seen the
presence that it could have and thats my biggest focus, even still. I wanted to affect peoples lives in a
way that they just gon be having a good time
enjoying themselves. Sometimes its like, Damn I got to make sure I gets
paid, you know? As an artist you try to separate that s**t from your mind when
you working. You try to just do
the art and then once the arts [is] created, you go out there and you go market
that stuff. I want my music to reach even more people now. But its just like Im having more fun
doing it thats all just what really it just boil down to. Its good to be like,
Im working on this audition, but when Im riding on the way to go do something
Im in the car writing a song. Here let me read this script, let me go work on
something, it keeps me flowing. Common discusses new album Universal Mind Control 12.9.08 – Common
AllHipHop.com: Because of the
type of artist you are its almost like a lot of your fans want Common to be broke.
Then you got all these sponsorships and the acting so cats start whispering
things, Commons kind of selling out. What do you say when people say stuff
Common: I mean being at the point that
Im a man, I got things that I want to do in my life, people to take care of
and a family to support, and investments to make. So I want to keep building
and building, and making things flourish so that I could provide for my family
and my community and all those around me. So, my thing is Im very focused and
know that Im cool with making money and not putting money first. I still want
to live well. The point is I dont mind if a corporation comes to me and wants to do a deal if its something that fits with me and
wont take away from me artistically. Then I mean Im grateful.
Not only is it an
opportunity to make money directly but its also expanding audiences for me. If
you dont change for money or you dont change for doing some type of
partnership for the business or whatever, then shoot you should take it as a
blessing. Then you doing the right
thing, thats what you should be doing. Otherwise, its difficult for a artist if they not able to make a living [from just music]
if they not able to keep creating you know what I mean? Its tough for them to
make a living and really be able to stay creative cause then they got to try
and find another job. It always
used to scare me like, Man I dont want to work no day job. [laughs]
So Im bout to make the best music
ever. And Im a believer that if
you make the music as good as possible and just make good quality music, then
its gon’ come to light and people will get to it. Sometimes it may take a continuous evolution of that, but it
will come to light. Im a believer
in that like, that, at some point, you just keep putting quality and growing
with what you do, as an artist and people gon
recognize it and expand your audience. And really what Im doing with the films, the commercials and different
things like that, is just expanding my audience and letting people know more
who Common is.
AllHipHop.com: Over your career
youve worked with
production giants, Dilla, Kanye, the Neptunes; what have
you gained from working with some of them?
Common: Working with Dilla I just learned that thats somebody that I felt was
like all he knew was about making good music. I mean of course he wanted to
make money but his love was with the music man. His mom told me he was walking around when he was three
years old with 45s on his wrist. His dad would walk him to the park,
he would have 45s on his wrist. I
felt that coming through him.
I feel like I learned about song making. He really knows how to make songs and
hes just so passionate and I also learned about being able to present your stuff with
confidence and say man, This is what it is, and not being like, Ok, am I
offending anybody?’ Cause I know in my heart where my heart is, and I know I
dont want to offend nobody. I recognize that in Kanye. I mean even if people did get offended
his heart is in the right place. I
kind of learned from him, as far as making songs, it got to have good choruses.
You got to bring in these certain type of melodies. He was really the person that was like, Ok, we gonna do some raw Hip-Hop, thats gon
still reach the masses. Were gon make sure it reach the
masses. Thats what his approach
Working with the Neptunes is like first of all were not working with
samples so that was something different in some ways. But I did that too with J-Dilla and ?uestlove, but the point is
that the Neptunes had a whole different approach in
might start the beat and then Chad will come add on. Pharrell
is definitely one who will, tell you, Man we should do the hook like this,
and then come with an idea for the hook.
He is one of the greatest producers I have ever worked with or the Neptunes together, some of the greatest producers.
Between them and Kanye they will make sure that song is done til the end. They
ain’t just gon’ let you rap a certain way. Kanye, ’cause he and I had known each other for a while and
he was definitely like, Nah, re-write the rap. Pharrell will be like,
man I think we could make this better.
He will say like you can do better. Its different approaches but both of them get to the finish
No ID. Man, he is just one of the
greats that people really dont know but he has done some incredible stuff. Working with him;
we were both new, this was our first time even making records. We were making demos
together, it was just about making music man. He would make cold beats and I would just write the
raps. And he would give me his
opinion and say, Man I think you could change this. But most of the time I was stubborn at that time. Man, but overall that was just the raw
creation right there. We didnt
know much about making the great hook or whatever. I would luck up, any hooks that we had that was good I would
luck up, I was just focused on the raps more than the
AllHipHop.com: Now whats up with
this super group you and Q-Tip are supposed to be putting together?
Common: Yeah, we still gon’ make it happen. Its called The Standard and Tip got his album and once my album come out and
we get to getting that material out there We just
talked and said man we got to start doing it. We had the idea and then we both
started doing our thing. I believe itll be happening soon, like at some point
in the next year I believe well have some songs ready to put out. Im just looking forward to working with
somebody of that talent. I listen to Tribe I listen to Tip
now and its like thats a timeless dude. They made some music thats forever
and he making music thats just incredible. I feel like what we doing is two
jazz musicians getting together to make a album. The Game – Common