One of hip hop’s most illustrious and conscious artists, Common, graced Campbell Hall’s stage Tuesday night as part of his book tour to promote his new memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense (titled after his third studio album).
The A.S. Program Board sponsored lecture aimed to take us through Common’s (born as Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) journey growing up in Chicago’s notorious South Side to his current state of ballin’ and reading poetry with the president.
Don’t let Fox News fool you; he is anything but the “vile rapper” they claim him to be. Besides his “controversial” lyrics, the GOP has nothing on him and his unblemished reputation.
Common didn’t waste any time spitting out a free-style rap for our awesome institution, noting FT, DP and the nachos at Freebirds. In his final verse, he spelled out his mission for the night, “I wish they could test for y’all to know the flow/the brother came from where, from where Chicago/so I give you a show/and you could just take this/I came to UC to talk about greatness.”
Common said he prayed the night before, asking God what theme to present to our campus. His answer came wrapped in the word “greatness.” According to Common, greatness is more than just achieving notable things for ourselves; it’s about helping others. He mentioned how all the prominent figures in our culture are remembered not simply because of what they did or overcame, but because of the effect they had on the rest of us.
He said the only way to achieve greatness is to do what we are truly passionate about and fully believe in. This advice resonated with me, and I’m sure a lot of the other college students around me were just as touched. We’re all here with different passions and talents, finding our way in this world and pursuing different paths.
Common’s story of rising to the top is inspiring to many, and he presented his three rules to live by: “Find your path. Believe in your path. Live it.”
As a bright, young boy growing up in the South Side, somewhere in between faking injuries on the sidelines of his basketball games or farting in class for attention, he found his voice in hip hop. He was nice enough to recite the first rap he wrote in the seventh grade. He put my childhood mix tapes to shame. After an encounter with the spirit of the late Emmett Till underneath the Chicago Bulls stadium as a teen, he realized the greatness inside of him was very real. It was at this moment that he decided he needed to take action.
Throughout the lecture, Common pressed the power of belief. His use of anecdotes to take us through his journey made the whole lecture so captivating and funny. There was never a dull moment, especially when he talked about his many experiences with his close friend, King Kanye West. Common talked about listening sessions for The College Dropout and his experience watching King Kanye hop up on tables “rapping his songs, sweating and spitting all over the place” to songs that he initially didn’t even like. He finished this story by saying he grew to like the songs because Kanye’s passion was contagious, and that everyone needs some of what he called “Kanye Konfidence.” If you believe it, you will achieve it.
Common then said our beliefs come from the light that is within all of us, and he recited a beautiful quote by Marianne Williamson about how we fear not our inadequacies, but how great we really are. He concluded the lecture by saying our journeys won’t be easy, but to keep in mind that all of the trials and tribulations are a part of a greater process.
His words were powerful, and I can’t imagine anyone leaving that lecture without gaining some valuable insight. Common is a glorious human being, and UCSB was lucky to catch some of his contagious spirit.