As he prepares for his 11th studio album, Chicago MC Common stopped by Billboard on Friday (Sept. 30) to discuss the theme behind his forthcoming project and the significance of its title single “Black America Again.”
Common released the video for “Black America Again” last week and the emotional visual focused on the recent deaths of unarmed black men whose lives were taken by police officers. The rapper originally planned to label his album Little Chicago Boy but opted for a title that packed a greater meaning behind it. “I felt like Black America Again was a strong statement and it also was a way to start the conversation to say lack America Again isn’t only about the protesting and the justice,” Common told Billboard. “Black America Again is about humanity and how we express ourselves, love and ways of feeling free.
“We are rewriting the black American story.”
Watch Common Pour His Heart Out in ‘Black America Again’ Video
The multifaceted rapper has earned his stripes as a talented lyricist and has even dipped into the Hollywood acting scene, starring in TV shows and movies like his most recent stint in Suicide Squad. In the midst of balancing his rapping and acting career, Common serves as a social activist. On Thursday night, the conscious rhymer held a Q&A session where he offered his opinions on race in America.
.@Janaye_Ingram #askCOMMON pic.twitter.com/HxtiCyKhBL
— COMMON (@common) September 29, 2016
“Black America Again” — which features the legendary vocalist Stevie Wonder — was created as an ode to the countless black lives lost over the years. After speaking with one of his collaborators about a song she wrote for Sandra Bland (who died after being hung in a jail cell), Common felt compelled to create the homage. “I owe it, we owe it to them to not only honor their lives by creating this change…I wanted this song to be like just a release, a call to action, and a movement.”
Though “Black America Again” is a profound, inspiring anthem, Common’s forthcoming project will also feature a few love songs like “Love Star” and “Red Wine” — a collaboration with The Internet’s Syd the Kyd. Jay Electronica also makes an appearance on the album, and Electronica doesn’t just work with anyone. “He has to feel it. He has to really be inspired to do it,” the “Glory” lyricist said. “He’s one of the Gods.”
Common also noted that he’s working with a few black directors to help bring the project’s story to life. OWN’s Queen Sugar director Ava Duvernay, as well as Judy Dash and Love & Basketball producer Gina Blythewood, will team up with the Chicago native to create visuals of “what Black America is to them” for his project.
The presidential election is quickly approaching and many celebrities have voiced their concerns about the political candidates running for office. Common, along with the rest of the world, watched the first presidential debate that aired this past Monday, and the event left the world in disbelief. “He’s not the person that is fit to run a country,” the rapper says of Donald Trump. “He doesn’t have the qualities that it takes to be a great leader if we want our country to go in the right direction.”
Watch Common’s full interview below: