Who Knew?: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About… Rapper Common
Fine, freckled, smart and one of the most creative artists around, rapper Common, born Lonnie Lynn Jr., is a standout. The Chicago native is a hip-hop veteran, actor and a New York Times bestseller — but beyond those things, could you say you know much more about the 42-year-old emcee? He’s clearly in love with his hometown, seemingly even more so now that he’s dropped his 10th LP, ‘Nobody’s Smiling,’ dedicated to the troubled streets of Chicago. Late last year he spoke to Hip Hop DX about his concerns for his city and what he’s doing to create some change.
“I got a foundation that is really there to try to help young people in Chicago and all over the world,” Common explained. “But it’s many people in the trenches…in the field really doing work to try to help young people. We just gotta reach out on that level.”
His social efforts have us swooning but there are a few more things about Common that we’re sure you don’t know about. Check the list.
1. Common is in tip-top shape. Take a look at his upper body in a suit and you’ll see what we mean. He plays ball for cardio primarily but he also works on his breath control in the strangest way. The rapper told Men’s Fitness that he freestyles while running laps. “It’s a tough endurance workout, especially when your rhyme pattern is ﬁlled with a lot of words…” It’s ideal preparation for live performances though.
“I come off the stage and everything is drenched in sweat—from my T-shirt to my underwear!” he says. “I would equate it to being in the Tour de France. It’s not as long, but it’s just as intense.”
2. Lending to his Adonis-like form, the Chicago-native also eats right. He drinks a ton of water daily and avoids red meat, noshing on veggies and seafood.
3. In 2011, Common released his memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense where he revealed that he and his mother were kidnapped at gunpoint by his drug-addled father when he was a toddler. According to Common’s mother, ““He took us out the house at gunpoint, handcuffed me to the front seat, put you in the back, and started driving across the country to Seattle…”
4. At age 12, Common was a ball boy for the Bulls and was on his way to becoming an ABA pro like his dad until he was poked in the eye one year.
5. In late September 2014, Common led a moment of silence for Ferguson teen Mike Brown at the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards instructing everyone in attendance to put both hands up in memory of the slain young man.
6. The emcee has admitted that his relationship with Erykah Badu indeed influenced his transformation during the years they dated. In fact, he wrote an entire open love letter to the soulstress in One Day It’ll All Make Sense.
In July, he told The Combat Jack Show, “She definitely was not like, ‘wear this,’” said Common. “Moving to New York I had the aspirations to do something new, to change, to grow, just try new things. She definitely was an influence… She introduced me to certain people that were creative artists, but as far as my choice – it was my choice to say, ‘I want to do this. I want to do that.’”
8. For over a decade, the rapper/author/activist has been at the helm of his Common Ground foundation, dedicated to building leadership and self-esteem in the youth of Chicago, even offering mentoring programs and business conferences.