At nearly 12 years in, Common is one of hip hop's longest-running voices. But even with all those years in the game, the veteran emcee has tended to keep a relatively short list of collaborators, usually linking up with like-minded lyricists such as Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Nas, Lauryn Hill and, of course, Kanye West. Asked in an interview why he has been slow to team up with the latest generation of rappers, Common said it was simply a matter of getting to know a person.
"With me it's just a matter of touching down with the cats," Common said of his collaboration method while on DJ Drama's Shade 45 radio show. "My music is important to me so... you know, I gotta be around you for a second or two."
Even though a connection hasn't been made yet, there are two new artists who Common said he would be more than happy to share a mic with: Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
"If I was approached by a Kendrick Lamar or a J. Cole, I would be like 'Yo, I wanna do it. Let's go!" he said. "I respect those dudes and I do wanna do some songs with some of the cats that's younger and that I feel like have got that stuff."
Common indicated that Lamar, in particular, had made an impression on him.
"He's raw with it. That's a dude that I'll hear and be like 'Aight. That's what I'm talkin' about.' We need that for hip hop," he said.
The Chicago native's ninth studio album, The Dreamer, The Believer, will be in stores December 20. In the interview, Common also confirmed that Kanye would not be producing on the project, but had recorded a verse for the remix to the single "Sweet." The track was produced by Ye's mentor and one of Common's oldest collaborators, No I.D.
"He ain't produce on it," Common said of Kanye. "He actually hopped on one of the songs, the 'Sweet' remix. He definitely was loving the album. He was happy that me and No I.D. connected. No I.D. introduced me to Kanye years ago."
(Photos from left: Kristian Dowling/PictureGroup, WireImage, Courtesy Sony Music Entertainment)