Common talks following his passions, remembering roots

Elizabeth Hlavinka

Hip-hop artist Common visited the Hogg Auditorium on campus on Tuesday. He talked with The Daily Texan about his recent projects, his Chicago roots and his basketball prowess.

The Daily Texan: Within the past few years, you’ve shifted toward acting. What prompted that decision?

Common: In 2000, I released Like Water for Chocolate and it was my best received album up to that date. I was really looking for something new to do creatively. I was listening to all this different music — Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead — but there was still something out there that was pulling me. I went to acting class because I knew acting was another form of art I could do that I might be passionate about. But once I went to class, I realized I was passionate about it. As I continued to be excited about going to class, I [knew] I had to pursue this. For a while, I wasn’t as enthused about creating music. Some things just hit you in your soul and you don’t even have to think about doing it. That’s how I feel about the new project I’m doing called “Black America.” That’s how I’ve felt about some of my music before like Like Water for Chocolate, Be or Resurrection. They just had an energy to them that was really inspired. 

DT: You grew up in Chicago, which you said in your book is something that’s “in your blood.” How did your childhood there affect your career?

C: I grew up in a black neighborhood in Chicago. I got to experience all these different colors, being around people that did have money being around people that didn’t have money. I was introduced to some aspects of life that gave me a sense of who I was, a sense of pride, a desire to progress and help others to progress. I relate to the struggle and don’t look down on people that don’t have [things]. In fact, those are the people I want to connect with and do more for. Chicago gave me that foundation. The people I grew up around, my friends, family — that’s who Common is. Even though I’ve evolved and seen other things in the world, I’m rooted in God and love and Chicago and family.

DT: What advice would you give to students who might have similar artistic endeavors?

C: If you are really passionate about it, pursue it. Do it with the expectation that if you put all your heart and soul into it, you will get exactly what you’re supposed to get out of it. Don’t think, “I’ve been doing this for three years and I still don’t have a record deal, I still haven’t made it in my first film” and think that’s the end of the story. [It] had to be at least seven or eight years from when I first wrote my rap to when I first got heard on a national scale. When you truly love something, you have to remember that it’s one of your purposes. Don’t be afraid to have one thing you love and still find other things that you love. Know that it will be a journey, and the end destination is for you to just reach that greatness within yourself. 

DT: I heard you’re not too shabby on the basketball court. Which NBA players could you beat one-on-one?

C: I’m just going to be in my dream world for a second: I could beat Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Lebron, D-Wade, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.