Common conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Common Interview


Common is anything but a common emcee. First known as Common Sense (but had to drop the "Sense" due to legal problems), Common gained enormous critical acclaim with the love song to hip-hop titled "I Used To Love H.E.R." where he uses falling in love with a woman as a metaphor for his relationship with hip-hop. After releasing many albums, (each one sounding different from the next), Common matured into an eclectic artist who takes chances and makes soulful hip-hop music that is extremely different from the mainstream.

His last couple of albums had deep soulful vibes, political messages, a love of Blackness, an intense spirituality, and a tender touch of romance. His latest LP "Electric Circus" spawned his biggest hit to date, "Come Close" featuring Mary J. Blidge. He has been produced by extremely respected producers like DJ Premier, The Neptunes, DJ Hi-Tek, Jay Dee and ?uestlove of The Roots. On the mic, he has worked with Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Roots, Jill Scott, Q-Tip and a myriad of other well-respected emcees. While Common has been much more sober, his music has become more psychedelic. Each album takes creative chances both lyrically and musically. His latest LP, "Electric Circus", is the perfect title since the LP takes us on a romantic evening through rides, freak shows, sweets, and soulful rhythm. It's a powerful and unique hip-hop album influenced by The Black Panthers, Pink Floyd, 70's rock music, Southern gospel music, New Orleans jazz, 60's soul music, and the struggle for human rights. Now, with his hit "Come Close" and his well-publicized romance with Erykah Badu, Common is riding his own hip-hop ferris wheel at his own "Electric Circus".

Erykah Badu and Common are considered "The Neo-Soul Black celebrity couple." Sharing magazine covers, tour busses, and their music videos, Erykah and Common hope to use their love to inspire us. They are two extremely unique and uncompromising individuals who found each other in a sometimes cruel plastic world, where most people conform. With peace, love, freedom, and soulful psychedelic music, they are sparking their own revolution and making love all the way through it. On a cold February evening, I had a chance to speak to Common with Erykah Badu in the background.

MVRemix: How are you doing?

Common: I'm good. I'm very good.

MVRemix: I love your new album 'Electric Circus'. One reason I love it is because it does not sound like any hip-hop LP out there.

Common: I didn't want to either.

MVRemix: Why is the new album called 'Electric Circus'?

Common: That was the description of where we were going with the music. 'Electric Circus' to me, symbolizes freedom in the music, the colors in it, and also the intensity in it. Also, it symbolizes how we can take the music all over to many different places but it still has continuity.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on 'Electric Circus'?

Common: It changes most of the time but today it's 'Aquarius' but tomorrow, it may be 'Soul Power'. The next day it may be 'Heaven Somewhere'. I have favorite ones for different moods. When I'm performing, I love 'Electric Wire Hustle Flower'.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with Mary J. Blige on 'Come Close'? What was she like to work with?

Common: I have always been a fan of Mary J. Blige's music. I just basically rapped on a remix of an international version of a song she had. From there, I just let her know that I wanted to do some music with her and I gave her some music. We did one song but we ended up not using it. Then, 'Come Close' was the next song where I had a vision that Mary would sound good on it. Once I used Neptunes and Pharrell wrote the chorus and produced the song, we both had the impression to get Mary on it. The track has that deep soul that she's got.

MVRemix: You and Erykah Badu make an incredible couple. You are the neo-soul celebrity couple and Essence magazine makes you guys out to be the 'perfect couple'. With all of this publicity, is there pressure (or more pressure) on the relationship?

Common: Nah, not really. In some ways, it does make you live up to certain expectations but I think Erykah and I are aware that we are not perfect people. We are beautiful together and we want people to know that we care about each other and that two people can love each other and grow together. But that does not mean that everything is always going to be perfect within the relationship. We try to get that across and hope that our relationship can be an example for other young people who are in love and who care about each other. They may have baby-mothers or baby-daddies or working through the new Black family. We want to really be good examples on how to love. We ain't going to be perfect but we pray that we just keep growing together and be a good reflection for people.

>> continued...

Related content:
  • Common 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Common 2005 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Common 2005 Interview part 2 by Hugo Lunny

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