Common: My Mind Spray

“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 doesn’t really pay. But then again Chicago rhyme slinger Common isn’t doing so bad.   Surely you’ve seen […]

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“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

doesn’t really pay. But then again Chicago rhyme slinger Common isn’t doing so



Surely you’ve 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. You had people ready for Invincible Summer. Obviously now it’s 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 couldn’t work at the same pace that I was working at. I

had to push it back.

 Universal Mind Control (UMC) – Common 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, I’m

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, that’s 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. I’ma come with Invincible

Summer at some point. 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 I’m an artist, so music is the way I

express myself. Man I love music, so when I get a chance to do it I’m feeling

grateful. I’m 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

that’s what’s 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 it’s

given me a chance to go out, touring ‘cause I want to. So that’s a joy for me

’cause I love music so I want to do it, for the love of it. That’s 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 wasn’t even on my mind. So if I can kind of create that same

environment for me as a musician where it ain’t even no

way or shape about money, that’s gon’ make the music

that much better for me. It’s 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. I’ve seen the

presence that it could have and that’s 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 it’s like, “Damn I got to make sure I get’s

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 it’s just like I’m having more fun

doing it that’s all just what really it just boil down to. It’s good to be like,

I’m working on this audition, but when I’m riding on the way to go do something

I’m 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 Because of the

type of artist you are it’s 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, Common’s kind of selling out. What do you say when people say stuff

like that?


Common: I mean being at the point that

I’m 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 I’m very focused and

know that I’m cool with making money and not putting money first. I still want

to live well. The point is I don’t mind if a corporation comes to me and wants to do a deal if it’s something that fits with me and

won’t take away from me artistically. Then I mean I’m grateful.


Not only is it an

opportunity to make money directly but it’s also expanding audiences for me. If

you don’t change for money or you don’t 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, that’s what you should be doing. Otherwise, it’s 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? It’s 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 don’t want to work no day job.” [laughs] 


So I’m bout to make the best music

ever. And I’m a believer that if

you make the music as good as possible and just make good quality music, then

it’s 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. I’m 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 I’m doing with the films, the commercials and different

things like that, is just expanding my audience and letting people know more

who Common is.

 The People – Common Over your career

you’ve 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…that’s 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 45’s on his wrist. His dad would walk him to the park,

he would have 45’s on his wrist. I

felt that coming through him.


With Kanye

I feel like I learned about song making. He really knows how to make songs and

he’s 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

don’t 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, that’s gon’

still reach the masses.” We’re gon’ make sure it reach the

masses. That’s what his approach



Working with the Neptunes is like…first of all we’re 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

production. Pharrell

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.  It’s different approaches but both of them get to the finish



No ID. Man, he is just one of the

greats that people really don’t 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 demo’s

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 didn’t

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

hooks. Now what’s up with

this super group you and Q-Tip are supposed to be putting together?


Common: Yeah, we still gon’ make it happen. It’s 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 it’ll be happening soon, like at some point

in the next year I believe we’ll have some songs ready to put out. I’m just looking forward to working with

somebody of that talent. I listen to Tribe I listen to Tip

now and it’s like that’s a timeless dude. They made some music that’s forever

and he making music that’s just incredible. I feel like what we doing is two

jazz musicians getting together to make a album. The Game – Common