Rapper/actor Common has recently lit up the big screen in flicks like 'Just Wright' and 'Date Night,' but he's gearing up to take on his first role as a regular on the AMC TV series 'Hell on Wheels.' Starring as Elam, a freed biracial slave struggling to find himself while working on the first U.S. Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s, Common recently spoke on why he chose this complicated role as his first recurring TV gig.

"The writing of the show was such quality and the character had so much depth to it," the Chicago native told Beats, Boxing and Mayhem of the Western. "This is one of the best characters I've come across regarding reading any script in my life. To play a freed slave to represent that time was a challenge to me as an actor. Whether it's TV or not, I just want to be a part of quality things. And being on AMC, the season doesn't last as long so I'll still be able to do films and tour. That made it even a better situation."

Common, who will be shooting the show's pilot in Alberta, Canada this week, also spoke on how hip-hop has changed since dropping his 1994 debut, 'Resurrection.' "Everything has to evolve," he said. "Hip-hop might not have gone the direction I always wanted, but that's part of being a person in any relationship. [Hip-hop] or someone might not do exactly what you want, but you have to love them for who they are. I would let hip-hop know I still love her."

The emcee plans on following up his 2008 release, 'Universal Mind Control,' with his ninth studio album, 'The Believer.' The LP, which is said to feature production from No I.D. and Kanye West, is slated for release later this year.