Common came of age during hip hop’s golden era. He wrote his first rap at 12 years old. By the time he was in high school, he was in a rap group and opening for N.W.A. It might seem like things have been fairly easy for the media mogul, who has managed to map out a long career that has expanded to acting, producing and writing. But, the rap icon’s dreams were almost dashed before he even got started.
Speaking with journalist Maya Pope-Chappell on LinkedIn’s digital series, “How I Got Here,” Common recounted the time his mom almost completely put a stop to his rap career, and it had nothing to do with his rapping. She didn’t even know he was a rapper in the first place. The rap icon had just barely started college at Florida A&M University when a record label came knocking to his, and his mom’s, surprise.
“I had just gotten a 4.0 after my second semester of freshman year [and was] going into my sophomore year. I got a call from a record label, Relativity Records,” the 47-year-old explained to Pope-Chappell. “I [had] a meeting with Peter Kane, he was the A&R, and he said he wanted to sign me. When it's time for me to leave school because I [got] the deal, my mother's like, ‘Wait!’ She barely knew I rapped to be honest. Because I didn't play any instruments, she didn't even think of me in that way.”
Eventually, his mother acquiesced but under one condition: he had to give up the rap game if he didn’t make it in two years.
“Man it was a tough, tough talk,” the rapper shared. “My mother said, ‘Well, if it doesn't work, I want you to go back to school after a year or two.’ Really she kind of gave me a two-year window. But in my plan, in my mind, this was it.”
As they say, the rest is history. The Chicago native further revealed that he is aiming for EGOT status after nabbing an Academy Award for his track “Glory,” that was featured on the Selma soundtrack.
“I do my best to focus on the art and put my passion into that, and let all great things come as they come,” Common coyly shared as Pope-Chappell prodded to see how he felt about being a Tony Award away from hitting EGOT status.
“Yes, I want an EGOT,” Common confirmed with a smile. “I do want it.”
Read the rest of the interview here.
(Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)