Higher learning

Common kicks the truth to young black youth. Photo by Leon Laing.

“You have to live your path,” rapper Common preached during his lecture on Oct. 14 at Millersville-based Millersville University. The wordsmith, actor, model and humanitarian found his path as child in his hometown of Chicago.

As a youngin, Common learned about the Emmett Till tragedy. That incident fueled his passion about black culture. Till, a 14-year old black Chicagoan, fell victim to an inhumane, racial crime in 1955.  After learning about Till, Common said the ghost of Till also haunted him, making him scared to walk down the corridor of the Chicago Bulls’ arena. Common worked as a ball boy for the Bulls. (And his pops balled for the ABA.)

Common also incorporated spirituality in his lecture. He quoted from the Bible and credited the Chilean miners for believing in God while they were trapped for 69 days. “Nobody is above God’s domain,” the rapper affirmed.

He gave the audience a taste of his first rap song inspired by a local rap group from Cincinnati. With the help of his first producer No I.D., Common put the Chi on the map. And classics, such as “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” “The Light,”  and “The Corner,” launched him into the hip-hop stratosphere. With 18 years in the rap game, Common is still churning out hits. How does it feel to still be relevant, vigoronline.com asked. “It’s a blessing,” hip-hop’s elder statesman said.

He also told our site he didn’t know two of his collaborators attended MU. On The Roots’ song “Water,” Black Thought said, “[He and Malik B] went to Millersville to get away from gun clappin’ [in Philly].” Common has also been aligned with the Native Tongues, Erykah Badu, and most recently, Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music  label. Kanye produced most of Com’s Be album—a project that earned a perfect rating from XXL magazine. “Belief resonates—I call it the Muhammad Ali theory,” Common explained. “You know [Kanye] believes in himself a lot.”

MU students opened up for Com with an open-mic segment. One singer amazed the crowd with his cover of John Legend’s “Ordinary People.”  (Legend is also part of the G.O.O.D. Music family.) The opening singer’s confidence was a testament to Common’s lecture.

 “You can’t be afraid to wear greatness,” the celebrity rapper said.

See below for more pics.

Common sits with the media. Photo by Leon Laing.

Clifton Johnson opened up for Com with a poem. Photo by Leon Laing.

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1 Response to “Higher learning”


  1. 1 Lei Row October 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    look at my boy clif! i’m so proud! 🙂


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