3 Minutes with Common

The award-winning rapper, activist, actor, and author stops in Detroit for his “Let Love Have the Last Word” book tour

CommonIf the long line of eager readers gathered inside Shinola’s Canfield Street location on June 27 is any indication, then Common certainly has a strong fan base in Detroit. The hype for the multi-hyphenate creative, who stopped by the luxury watch brand’s flagship shop for a book signing, is seemingly well deserved. Since debuting on the rap scene in the early ’90s, he’s garnered supporters around the world for his way with words, which is expertly encapsulated in his award-winning lyrics, and now, his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word.  

The new release, published by Atria Books, is Common’s second memoir. The book explores what it means to act from a loving place, which is something that Common has been trying to practice in his own life. In the memoir, he explores themes related to relationships and incarceration, and even shares how he’s worked through the negative feelings associated with being sexually abused as a child. The process of writing about these powerful messages was so impactful for Common that it inspired him to create new music. In July, he’ll release an album under the same name of his book and hit the road for a 27-city tour. Good news for all those local fans — especially those who may have missed him on his most recent visit — he’ll stop at The Fillmore Detroit on Aug. 8.

In the three minutes that Hour Detroit spent with Common prior to his signing — he, politely, agreed to answer a few questions before dedicating his focus to the growing aforementioned line — he was able to poetically, and succinctly, reflect on his book’s messages of love, personal growth, and making a positive difference. Read his thoughts below and visit thinkcommon.com for more on his book and upcoming tour.

Hour Detroit: What does it mean to you to “let love have the last word,” and why is this relevant now?

Common: To let love have the last word is an action. It’s an action of love. It’s an act of love, meaning in any situation you’re in you let love prevail. That could mean a situation that you’re in with your significant other, a stranger that’s doing something that’s pissing you off, someone that has hurt you deeply — maybe a parent or a loved one has hurt you and you still find a place to be able to love. That doesn’t mean you just fold and don’t say who you are or express who you are or agree with everything, but love is an active thing. It’s really listening to the other individual, paying respects to the other individual. It’s a forgiving act. So, letting love have the last word is really acting. Letting that be a purpose in your life and letting that be the action that you go throughout your day with.

You talk about relationships a lot in the book — with God, your daughter, family, partners. What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten?

The best relationship advice I got is to make sure you love yourself as much as you love the other person. That’s been important because sometimes, for me, I’ve been in relationships where I’ve put more value in the other person. That can create resentment. That can create an imbalance. You’ve got to be whole yourself. People say, “man, you complete me.” But no, you don’t want the other person to complete you. You want to be as whole as you can be and join up with somebody who’s as close to whole as they can be, and then y’all enhance each other.

In Let Love Have the Last Word, you also explore breaking negative cycles, whether it’s sexual abuse or incarceration. How can we take steps in our daily lives to break cycles that seem bigger than us?

Well, first we’ve got to build a spiritual foundation. A lot of things that we are encountering are on an emotional level and a spiritual level. A true relationship with the creator, with God, and knowing that God is in you, can help you overcome so many of the things that we encounter on the daily. But then, along with that, know that spirituality works, and God works, through different methods and mechanisms to deal with healing, whether it’s mindfulness, taking care of yourself through nutrition and exercise, therapy. Those [are] different aspects that I’ve found. I’ve got to give it to art, too. Art is something that has been a release for me. It has allowed me to learn more about myself and express a lot of things in a positive way instead of going out, when I’m pissed off about something, and acting a fool. I’m able to release something through these words, and it becomes a more positive thing. Those are some of the avenues that I believe that we can use to break the cycles and to talk about.

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