As a larger-than-life personality who rubs proverbial elbows with Kanye West and current tour members N.E.R.D., Common is big. An artist who’s recorded numerous albums as well as embarking on a film career, Common is currently involved with Zune’s Green Room interview series, a podcast that takes fans backstage with their beloved idols. Aside from music, Common just completed filming Terminator Salvation, the new Terminator movie starring Christian Bale. Already a Grammy-winning artist, and with recent roles in films like Wanted and Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, Common is making a concerted push for movie fame. The rapper, whose voice conjures Barry White’s — low and slow — caught up with us to discuss his partnership with Zune, his style trademarks, and why bad reviews sting, just a little.
How are you? Where are you today? Atlanta, Georgia.
Good city. Can you tell me a bit about your collaboration with the Green Room series? How did it come about? What made you decide to get involved? Zune and I decided to partner on different things. They’ve been supporting our tour, and they’ve actually been supporting our video too. They introduced me to what the Zune plan was about, and I was like, this is something that was real hip, you know, this is cool, like connecting people to music, and it had a pure intention to it, so I was like, cool. I mean obviously it’s a corporation, so they still got to make money, but you know when you’ve got music lovers that really care about music behind it, it’s still going to be something good to it. It was just about them interviewing and really getting a look at what it’s like to be backstage with different artists and in a place of solitude, or whatever the backstage area may be for them. I told them I was definitely cool with doing that, so they just followed me when I was at the Seattle show.
As an artist do you ever get creative blocks? And if so, how do you handle that? How does an artist who has produced so many records keep creating fresh content? I’ve definitely have come across some creative blocks, but that came a little while ago. Now for some reason, I’ve been feeling more creative than ever, just enthused about creating music and just being creative even as an actor and just as an artist. So I think the way I try to keep being creative, and keep the desire, is just by learning more and living life and growing, you know?
What do you love about your life right now? I love first of all God. God is the most important thing to me in my life, but I love my family and my support. I love my daughter, I love acting a lot, I love traveling, I love just smiling, laughing, going to the movies, and hanging out with people that I love and having a good time.
Not that I’m going to ask you too much about your personal life, but as a celebrity, how do you balance your public and private lives? Well, I think you know you gotta live whether or not you are a celebrity. You gotta go to the store, gotta go the bathroom, do what you do, you know. You gotta live, but you also gotta realize you’re under the eye sometimes — to keep your private life as private as possible. That don’t mean you don’t go out with somebody if you’re dating somebody; maybe you still don’t go out, but you don’t exploit any relationship. If I was in a relationship, I wouldn’t be wanting to do articles about it or anything, so you keep your private life by not talking too much about whatever your private life is. But the funny thing is most rappers talk about their private life in their music, or some of them do. The soulful ones do.
As a performer, how do you handle critical reviews of your music? I mean, since the press is everywhere. I be gettin’ upset if don’t get a good review. I’d be mad, I ain’t gonna front, but I’ll be like, “can’t they say something good? Why ain’t they?” You know, because my art is my child, so I definitely be takin’ it in, but eventually I get over it. But I do feel the pain real quick.
As a public person you attend a lot events. Do you ever find it difficult to decide what to wear? How do you feel about fashion in general? I like fashion and presenting myself well, and I feel like if I look good I feel better. I like style as a way to express myself. Going to events sometimes, I gotta make decisions like every other human being. Does this look cool? It is cool. This will work. You know I might get a second opinion sometimes, but overall I try to pick stuff that makes me feel good about what I’m wearing.
Do you have someone who dresses you? Or do you dress yourself? I dress myself, and I undress the lady that I love. I dress myself, and I have a stylist too. It’s a combination, but I do have stylist named Yvette Sanchez. She styles me, but I also go out and pick out my own clothes also.
What would you say defines your style? What would you say is your trademark? Common’s look? I would say my style is progressive and free, it’s me, it’s who I am. I mean at the moment I’ve been wearing different shades, and my “Malcolm X” glasses I call them, because those Ray Bans you know they are the Malcolm X shades, but putting different things together it just makes you feel free.
Are there any designers that you really like right now? I just bought this sweater. I like Paul Smith, really.
What did you wear when you were younger, say, as a teenager? I used to wear Polos when I was younger, Lacoste. I would wear Gucci belts and Chanel.
I read that you are a practicing vegan? No, I used to be a vegan. I eat fish now.
How long were you a vegan? Two years.
You’re working on some film projects now, right? Yeah, I just finished Terminator Salvation and I’m checking out some films right now, deciding what I’m going to do.
What’s it like working with Christian Bale? Working with Christian Bale is incredible, man. He’s one of the actors on my list of people I wanted to work with, so to get to be in a film with him was great. It was a great learning process and working with a great actor is heaven for me. I love it.
Are you looking to do more films? Are you looking to do more acting in the future? Yeah, definitely. That’s my career too. I’m building a career as an actor. You’ll see me doing more and more films. I’m going to be a movie star.