Common Freestyles Like Fire on 16 Bars
Common could slay a man with his words, as he demonstrates in this exclusive 16 Bars freestyle segment. The Chicago-based Grammy nominee took time out from promoting ‘Finding Forever’ to talk to PopEater about the new album and how he’s evolved over his 15-year career. Read the full interview after the jump.
Tell us about ‘Finding Forever.’
‘Finding Forever’ is my new album, which is coming out July 31. I entitled it ‘Finding Forever’ because I thought about making music that would be here forever. Music that would be timeless and ageless, and would be able to go for generations beyond my physical existence. As I thought of that title, I began to think about forever for all of us — finding our purpose in life and what our legacy would be, what will our contribution be and how we will be remembered. That’s what “finding forever” meant for me; just finding that place where I can create something that will be memorable and timeless throughout life.
How is Common of 2007 different from the Common Sense of 1994?
Common Sense is definitely a part of me still. It’s who I was, and I evolved. Common Sense is this little cat who was rolling really fresh off the block from Chicago. Out getting drunk, kicking it, fighting, partying and doing different things but still had a good heart. I still feel some of that youth and fun, and that spirit still exists in me, but I believe that Common evolved once they took the name away. It was a big turning point for me. A group using the name Common Sense tried to sue me for the name in ’96 or ’95, and when that happened a lot of different things were happening to me in my life that were allowing me to evolve, and that was one of them. Now when I look at Common myself, I say, “Dang, I’m just this dude who’s been growing and evolving, but has just been open to change.” All of it is still connected, but you always want to grow and want to become better, and I feel like I have grown and opened my mind up to a lot more things. But that’s the difference between Common and Common Sense, but I still want people to know I’m Common Sense forever.
How important is lyricism to you?
Lyricism in hip-hop is very important. To be able to rap is a blessing; it’s a gift. To get up on the microphone and let your voice be heard by millions of people is an opportunity. Lyricism is important because you’re using that opportunity wisely. When you get this time and this gift and this microphone in front of you, what can you say that’s original, that’s true to you, that has some creativity and imagination in it? That’s what lyricism is about. It sparks the minds of the listeners. I think hip-hop was always about inspiring the people, and I think lyricism ties into that inspiration. We need lyricism in hip-hop.