Common conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Common Interview


MVRemix: Being that both of you are eccentric artists and also successful, does the touring and studio time make things hard on the relationship?

Common: I don't see it as too hard. We both love our work and we both have other things that we produce besides our relationship. So, when we are together or away from each other, we will always be in tuned with each other. We care about each other but work is work. We have other things to do in life. Being that we are blessed with the opportunity to go out and reach each other, I can hop on a tour bus and roll with her or she can slide on tour with me. I experience that freedom too.

MVRemix: Your album 'Like Water For Chocolate' seem to give birth to The Soulquarians. Who exactly are The Soulquarians and what is your role?

Common: It's not just one list of people. I think that title came about on the producers who are of the Aquarius sign. Soulquarians began with D'Angelo and ?uestlove, James Poyser and Jay Dee. We took a picture of all of us together and it made us fall under that umbrella. We are a family and we don't got no name. From Eyrkah Badu to Bilal to Mos Def to Q-Tip to The Roots to Dead Prez to Slum Village and Jay Dee. All of us are from the same musical womb. We just all want to be creative and do good music. That's our family right there. We bleed the same blood, you dig?

MVRemix: Alcohol used to play a big role in your early work. You held a beer bottle the whole time in the video for 'I Used To Love H.E.R.' and made numerous references to drinking and alcoholism. In one song you say 'Dealing with alcoholism and afro centricity.' Did you once consider yourself an alcoholic? Do you still drink? What was that transition like?

Common: Yeah, I mean, during those days, I was drinking a lot. You know, drinking a lot. I was just going out and getting drunk. Pieces are known to have addictive tendencies sometimes but I wouldn't go so far to call myself an alcoholic. I always knew how to do without it. I did drink a lot though. It was a big part of my life, a big part of my existence. I stopped. I stopped in November of 2000. Since then, I have just been clearer. It's been clearer. I've been feeling a littler lighter and little more peaceful. I'm getting more in tune with myself because I couldn't hide behind the liquor any more. I just had to be myself in every situation. I had to figure out how Rasheed, how Common feels in different situations. Not having the mask of liquor or the protector of liquor by saying 'It was the liquor that made me do it', it enhances my courage.

MVRemix: Stereolab is an incredible French band. I noticed that Jay Dee, Slum Village, and The Roots always refer to them. I think that you are the first hip-hop artist to ever collaborate with them. What is it about them that you love so much? Latitia Sadier of Stereolab sings on 'New Wave'. How did you hook up with here and what was she like?

Common: I'm a fan of Stereolab and have been a fan of Stereolab for a minute. I just love their music and went to their concert. I got in contact with Latitia by having my manager get in contact with her manager. Then, I just approached her at their concert, played her the music and she dug it. She was wonderful to work with. I didn't lay it down in the studio with her. She is a very talented person. When she wrote the vocals, she called and let me hear them over the phone. It was a beautiful and powerful thing. It was just an honor to work with her because I love their work and I think they are courageous space cadets.

MVRemix: DJ Premier is one of the most respected producers in hip-hop and he produced a song on your LP 'Like Water For Chocolate' titled 'The 6th Sense'. How did you hook up with him and what was it like working with him?

Common: Like you said, being that he is one of the most respected producers, I really loved his music throughout the time. Gangstarr has always been one of my favorite groups. I've always wanted to work with him. It was time. I connected with him and seen him in a couple of places. I told him that I wanted to work with him. It took a little time to get up with him but eventually, we got up. That was the last song I recorded for 'Like Water For Chocolate'. We released 'Dooinit' first and then the single and video for 'The 5th Sense'. Then, we followed it up with 'The Light'.

MVRemix: Do you go into the studio with your rhymes pre-written or do you hear the music first, and then write lyrics?

Common: I get the music going first and that's how I roll. I like to let the music take me to wherever I can go vocally.

MVRemix: What was it like growing up in Chicago?

Common: It was a mixture of poor middle class Black life and upper middle class all in the same area. It was very segregated but it was Black and soulful. There was everything from gangs to churches to the Chicken Shack.

MVRemix: Your father is a very cool man. He always has those cool spoken-word songs at the end of your albums. Was he strict? How did he discipline you?

Common: I didn't grow up with my father, I grew up with my mother. My father wasn't always there physically but he was spiritually. He left me his words. I still can listen. You got to show that respect.

>> continued...

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