Interview: Common Talks Wishing He Rapped On "Mercy," G.O.O.D. Music's Fastest Writer, & Making Another "Be"

Interview: Common Talks Wishing He Rapped On "Mercy," G.O.O.D. Music's Fastest Writer, & Making Another "Be"Photography by NABIL (@nabildo); Click Here For Additional Cover Story Credits.

What’s the atmosphere in the studio been like during the making of this album?
To be honest, I’ve been in the studio and I was doing some recording, but it was mostly me, Big Sean, Cyhi, Pusha, and Teyana in there. For me, it was fun to just be able to rock with them and cats is smoking, cats is doing what they do, having fun more than anything. Just figuring it out. I can remember Big Sean being like, “You should get on this” talking about “Mercy.” I wanted to get on that. I wish I would’ve gotten on it.

Why didn’t you?
I was working, doing something. Eventually the record, it got done quicker than I could get my verse out. They put it out and it was banging.

Who’s the fastest writer of the crew?
From what I’ve seen, it would either be Kanye or I heard Tip was laying a verse down in 10 minutes. That’s what I was told. I wasn’t in the studio when he did. I haven’t witnessed 2 Chainz doing his verses yet. Sean is right there with it, too. Sean and 'Ye have been the fastest that I’ve seen up until now. Oh, Kid Cudi is really good at writing choruses real quick.

What is the the energy of the room like? It seems like, if you got a verse you can rap on the song. It doesn’t seem like it’s limited to anyone.
It’s not limiting and that’s what’s really cool about it. I feel grateful because some of the challenges for me is I’m getting to have an opportunity to rap on something like “Mercy,” which I haven’t been in that world yet on the music side. That’s challenging. That’s what I like. If you do have a verse, you’ll have an opportunity to lay it down. You have to get it past the board to make it but you still get the opportunity.

Have you had verses that haven’t made it through the board?
I’ve had verses that have made it through the board, I’ve had verses that I’ve got requested that I need to change these lines, blah blah blah. I like the challenge of being like, “That wasn’t as dope so I’ll go back and fix it up.”

That makes me better, makes the song better, and that’s what it’s about. I think Kanye was one of the first producers that I had that did that. He did that during Be, we did that where, “I need your delivery to be a little more this” or “I like that take you did already so don’t even re-rap it.” That was, to me, really a producer.

That’s the thing you said before. You never got to the point where you were like, “I made it.” That’s the same with a verse like, “No, I can write a better verse." Writing is rewriting, giving it a second shot. That’s the process.
Yeah, that is the process that you write and rewrite. Getting to work on film, television, you see it don’t stop. Then, too, from a writer’s perspective, we get a script and when you get there that day to film, they’re still writing some stuff. It’s a continuous process. Until that joint has reached the point that you can’t change it anymore because of the release, or the filming, or whatever your deadline may be, that’s when it’s done. Otherwise you’re still going through the process.

Is having a deadline important for you?
If you tell me, we’re going to do this song and I don’t know when you need it done or when it needs to come out, then it’ll be sitting around. But if you’re like, “I need this Friday,” then I know and I’m gonna get it done.

How has the process been for this album? It seems like everything is sort of happening all at once.
For me, it was going in to work in the studio. It was a certain amount of time that I had to lay down my songs and work on it. I’m not used to writing in the studio. I’m used to writing on my own, taking a ride, going to do stuff and then writing. I love to write rhymes like that. So I had to write in the studio and it was a party. It was good times but I had to be able to focus and write. I worked on that and I went into my own little solitude place for a minute and then we got it done. That’s what some of the writing takes.

With this album, what is the success? What are you looking to get out of this?
To be a part of an album that people will say, “Have you heard this G.O.O.D. Music album? This is one of the freshest albums I’ve heard in a long time. I loved it.” One of those things where it’s like, that album is the movement, it’s what people are playing all around. No matter what area you’re in in the world, whether you’re in the U.S. or in the hood or in the coolest artsy place, that album is what people are focused on and into. That would be success to me for the G.O.O.D. Music album.

When I think of albums that have impact throughout the years, I look at Ready to Die or N.W.A.’s Niggaz4Life or Tupac’s Makaveli or The Fugees album or some of Kanye’s albums. When Biggie would come out with an album, the whole nation would be listening and I would love for our album to be a movement where, like I said, all these different people are into the music.

How do you think G.O.O.D. Music compares to some of the other rap crews you have like Maybach Music and YMCMB?
They all got talented artists within their crew. I just think we have a real diverse group. Diversity is the best word I can use. It’s a lot of depth to what we do so I think that’s how we compare. We bring a certain creative lifestyle to what we do and each person is truly established. They have established themselves as a presence within hip-hop music and culture. That’s what we bring. That’s what allows us to be very unique.

I was just having a conversation with Pusha. He owns a store and he was like, “The kids come in wanting stuff that Big Sean is wearing.” So he has an influence on culture, point blank.

Kanye has reached a level where you can go anywhere in the world and say Kanye West’s name. I was in a French store and this lady was like, “What are you here for?” I was like, “Well, it’s a fashion show.” She was like, “Whose is it?” I said, “Kanye West.” She said, “Oh, Kanye West? Tell him to come in here.” It was this older French woman. It’s like, his influence is felt.

The places that I have reached, beyond just music, as an actor too, the people that come up to me now, it’s just a different thing. It’s a lifestyle thing that I feel that we present that’s very unique, fresh, and authentic to who each individual is. But as a team, it just breathes true quality.

Tags: common, good-music, kanye-west
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