“Education is the source that enables a person to grow in life, and for society to better itself. Learning is the best aspect of my life.”
In 2006, the Grammy Award winning artist Common made his big screen debut as a musical performer in “DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY”. In January 2007, he made his acting debut co-starring opposite Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, and Ryan Reynolds in “SMOKIN’ ACES” for Universal Pictures and writer/director Joe Carnahan. Since then he’s co-starred opposite Denzel Washington in “AMERICAN GANGSTER”, Directed by Ridley Scott, David Ayer’s “STREET KINGS” starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, “WANTED” opposite Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman and “TERMINATOR SALVATION”, directed by McG and starring Christian Bale. He’ll next be seen in the April 2010 release “DATE NIGHT”, which stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey and is directed by Shawn Levy and has recently wrapped his first lead role in “JUST WRIGHT”, starring opposite Queen Latifah for FOX Searchlight.
Prior to acting, Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hops most poetic and respected lyricists having recorded over seven albums: Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Resurrection, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Like Water For Chocolate, Electric Circus, BE and Finding Forever. With both BE and Finding Forever, he partnered with Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce. This dynamic partnership resulted in four Grammy Award nominations in addition to being nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards including Best Hip Hop Video.
Common knows exactly what you’re thinking. After the crossover success of his last two albums BE andFinding Forever, you expected the king of conscious hip-hop to serve you another set of introspective rhymes over raw soul tracks by Kanye West. But Common hasn’t lasted 16 years in the notoriously fickle hip-hop game by avoiding risk. This Renaissance Man is all about pushing boundaries—and winning while he’s at it.
Currently nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rap Album, his most recent release,Universal Mind Control is a powerful testament to Common’s fearlessness. Inspired by the 24-hour party scenes of Prague and Barcelona, the MC teamed up with The Neptunes and OutKast affiliate Mr. DJ to create a body rockin’ blend of hardcore hip-hop, retro electro, sinister funk and sticky sweet soul.
“With Universal Mind Control, I’m commanding people to dance and get loose. The subject matter I address isn’t as serious. It’s just me flirting with women, saying little clever stuff, and talking about how I’m the gladiator of hip-hop. These are some of the most spontaneous, fun songs I’ve ever done.”
Universal Mind Control reflects Common’s newfound freedom where he was able to create a body of work that represents the future of hip hop. Highlights include the Afrika Bambaataa-inspired, Neptunes-produced title track which was featured on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
“I’ve always been passionate about what I do, whether it’s rapping, acting, writing, break dancing, or whatever it is,” says Common. “I put my heart into Universal Mind Control, and I think it’ll reach audiences I’ve never touched before. This music has a progressive, international spirit to it, but it’s still very much hip-hop. It’ll take you to a new place, but it’s still Common.” He is currently in the studio working on his next album, The Believer.
In 2007 he launched the Common Ground Foundation, which gives back and allows our youth to realize their full potential. The CGF is dedicated to the empowerment and development of urban youth in the United States. In 2009, Common was able to motivate and empower Collegiate minds across the country speaking at such prestigious institutions as California University of Pennsylvania, University of Memphis, Wright State University, University of Rochester and KIPP Charter Schools.
Common also offers a younger generation a better understanding of self respect and love, utilizing the cultural relevance of hip hop, in the children books he has written. The first one, entitled The MIRROR and ME, teaches lessons of life, the human spirit, and human nature. His follow-up book I Like You But I Love Me was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and his third book, M.E. (Mixed Emotions), was released in 2008.
In addition to his music, film, and literary pursuits, Common was recently announced as the face of the newDiesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave. He also partnered with Microsoft on their Softwear clothing line, as well as other companies like Microsoft Zune, Lincoln Navigator and AMP Energy Drink. In 2007, he launched his Italian hat line SOJI.
In 2010 Common will focus on expanding his series of children’s books, starring in more box office hits, completing his next Grammy Award winning project, branding opportunities and continuing to inspire youth across the country with his Common Ground Foundation.