Interview: Common at BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” panel, Hollywood
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Common always seems to be a few years ahead of his time. The Chicago MC was once scolded by the hip-hop community for his more adventitious projects–Electric Circus and Universal Mind Control–however now it’s almost the norm for hip-hop artists to rhyme over electro beats. Ever forward thinking and innovative, the MC has not only changed the hip-hop game, but has made his mark in feature films, television, and causes such as animal rights, AIDS awareness, and Haitian relief.
We caught up with Common at BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” panel at The House of Blues in Hollywood a day before he attended the 52nd Annual Grammy ceremony, where he was nominated for two awards. The yearly panel featured Common, along with Nas, Colbie Caillat, and Salaam Remi.
Check below the break for a DOPE video of Common, Nas and Colbie vibin’ to “The Light!”
On being nominated for two Grammys…
“It’s always good to be recognized for your art…for doing something that you love to do. It’s a great feeling to be nominated for a Grammy. And also to be recognized by an award show that is still prestigious when it comes to music [means something]. A Grammy still holds a certain prestige about it. For me, even though I’ve received Grammys [in the past] I still feel honored when I’m nominated. It’s a good feeling.”
On the new album…
“I’m working with No ID and Kanye West. It’s a different sound frommy last album, We have some crazy samples in there. I’m working on some verses that might not even be 16 bars. You might not hear any hooks on these songs. You might just hear some scratches where the chorus would be. I’m really looking into doing some raw stuff.
Sometimes you go through some phases like…’this is what I’m on right now.’ I might be on some Euro word style music–that’s Universal Mind Control. I might be on some afrobeat slash soul-ful hip-hop–that’s Like Water for Chocolate. As like goes, you just have to express who you are at the time, whether you think the audience is there or not, you owe it to yourself to express it.
On the devastation in Haiti…
“We have to recognize that not all is going to change in one day. People are going to be in need for a while. So I’m going to continue to do things that will provide for the people.”
On J Dilla…
“I’ve never someone make music and do what he does, to create sounds that could be anything from the rawest hip-hop to something that sounds like Pink Floyd mixed with Radiohead. He would play some of the instrument also. I never seen a producer where other producers would have so much respect for. Everybody from Pharrell to Kanye to Questlove would be like ‘man, that’s my favorite producer.’ I actually think that music would be in a different place if he were still here. He provides so much inspiration to every musician.”
On Michael Jackson…
“Michael is the reason a lot of us wanted to be stars. I can speak specifically for me when I say that Mike is the reason I wanted to be someone important in the world. I’ve see an African American male winning awards and being celebrated. To me he’s the greatest as far as an entertainer goes. Hes’ the star. Hes’ the definition of a star. And then there are the things he did for people. There are things that we don’t even know about that he did for people and the way he treated people. He’s the prime example of what a star should be.”