Common has proved himself to be a man of the people. His growth into a certified A-list celebrity has been amazing to watch. Common has used his fame to make a positive impact on humanity. He has recently teamed up with Allstate and the Tom Joyner foundation to support Allstate’s “Quotes for Education.” Allstate will donate $10, up to a total donation of $250,000 for every person who receives an insurance quote from a participating Allstate agent between Aug. 1 and Nov. 30, 2016, and mentions “Quotes for Education.” These funds will be donated to the Tom Joyner Foundation and earmarked for general scholarship funds to assist students attending HBCUs. We spoke with Common about this initiative, his other community works and new projects he has coming up.
Your career has been nothing short of amazing. What has been the most challenging part of maintaining this type of success?
The most challenging part is to remember what I am here to do. Stick to the core purpose of what I’m supposed to to do as an artist, as a voice. That’s only challenging sometimes because you still want your art to be received and recognized by many people. It gets challenging sometimes because you many not have the resources to get it out there, especially when you are doing something that’s different. The challenge is doing something different and being able to get it to the people you want to reach.
Your work with the Common Ground Foundation helps to provide a different perspective to many of the youth in Chicago; what inspired you to start this foundation?
Growing up in the Chi, I grew up around some dudes who just didn’t have [anything]. Some just didn’t have things, they had been through things that were tough. As a teacher, my mother would bring students home that were going through rough times. I would always look around and say I was grateful to have a mother that cared for me and worked hard so that I could go to school. It made me want to help those who might not have that. Some of my friends didn’t even have a mother that was around, not to mention a father. It innately came to me “I want to help out those who don’t have.” Looking at my mother as an educator, it was always based around youth.This is exactly why I got down with this Allstate’s “Quotes for Education” because this is helping out Black colleges and helping young people go to school.
AAHH! Fest is right around the corner, people are still talking about the first one. Why didn’t it happen in 2015. And what can we expect this year?
In 2015 we felt like we were not going to be able to deliver at the level we wanted to because of different circumstances, schedules. There are so many festivals in Chicago that some of the artists we wanted couldn’t perform again in Chicago around that time. Things just didn’t line up for us.
This year we are coming to bring that energy, fun good music, great music. This year it’s two days, Sept. 24 and 25. The first day is the youth day and Tink is performing. On the 25th we have The Roots, Jeremih, The Internet and a few more surprise guests.
My favorite album from you is Like Water for Chocolate. I know they are all like your kids but which is your favorite and why?
My favorite album of mine is Like Water for Chocolate. It’s something about the spirit and the energy of what we were doing at that time. It felt fresh and new. It was the first time I had a record that was really played on the radio. I remember going to do radio shows and little Black girls were singing my songs. That was a revelation because I am a hip-hop artist, but I was mostly just reaching the hip-hop audience. Like Water for Chocolate was me. That’s what really makes me love that album.
This new project I’m working is incredible and it’s called A Bigger Picture Called Free. It’s got Black America on it. I can’t wait to put this project out.
I went to see Suicide Squad the other day and you popped up on the screen. I didn’t realize it was you until my sons pointed it out. Great job. What’s next for you on the big screen?
I co-star in John Wick 2 with Keanu Reeves. I did an independent film called A Happening of Monumental Proportions I’m the lead in it and its directed by Judy Greer. I did a movie called Hunter Killer, a submarine movie where I play an admiral in the navy. I also just finished a movie that Rza directed it’s a working title right now. I’m looking forward to doing some incredible roles and some more leading roles.
What words of encouragement do you have for the youth out here or anybody pursuing their dream?
You will always achieve your dreams if you keep your intention and your focus on what the dream is and remember as you walk toward your dream that there will be some challenges. Those are the things that build character and help you value your dream when you reach it. Once you reach it, you have to keep reaching higher and higher. It’s all in God’s purpose and all in God’s alignment. Just keep the creator first and remember to do it with love.