Five Questions

An un-Common man: Oscar winner forges a new musical path; reveals his favorite rappers

Oscar winner forges a new musical path; reveals his favorite rappers

Common at Tanqueray Trunk Show
Common performed at the Tanqueray Trunk Show at The Astorian on Saturday. Photo by Dot Hong

It's been quite a year for Common

After spending more than two decades making music, the hip hop artist won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Glory" from the film Selma. During the telecast,  he performed a moving rendition of it with John Legend, who also received an Oscar for the song. Common also co-starred in the film.

The multi-talented star visited Houston for the final Tanqueray Trunk Show on Saturday — ending the event's six-city tour — where he spoke about entrepreneurship and performed in front of a frenzied local crowd at The Astorian.

Prior to his appearance at the event, CultureMap stopped in for an interview with the Chicago-born rap sensation.

CultureMap: How has your life changed since winning an Oscar?

Common: Really, a lot more people know who I am. Some people who never had an idea of who Common was now feel connected to me as an artist, as an actor or as a musician — really as a musician. I spoke at my lawyer's daughter's school, for fifth grade, to a lot of kids who never knew who Common was, but now they do. I spoke in their class, they were talking about African American history, and when I came in, they already knew who I was. It's just awareness more than anything, that has changed.

As far as me, I'm looking to do more creative things and I feel like I want to keep growing.

CM: Do you have plans to focus more on your acting career?

C: I plan to focus on both aspects of art, because I love acting and I love creating music. I love just coming up with ideas, but acting and music are my two favorite things to do artistically in life. So, I wouldn't want to neglect either one. There's times that I can be more enthused to do one or the other, and that's just natural for me, and maybe natural for a lot of artists. I am doing some new film projects, but I'm also like "We need some new beats, let's go." I'm excited about both.

CM: What kind of path is your music taking you on right now?

C: See, I want my music to be part of something bigger than just the music aspect, meaning I would like for my music to have a visual to it. Not video, but something like a play or a short film. Maybe the music itself is based around a certain theme for me to keep it interesting. When I do albums, I gotta be passionate about it, I gotta be interested, because I love hip hop culture, I love writing. I find things that make me interested to create and that's one of the things I'm looking for my music to be, to have another story to it that has something to do with film or theater.

CM: Are there any projects outside of film and music that you're working on?

C: Well, I'm here for this Tanqueray Trunk Show and I'm having a great time being able to be here and tour and talk about entrepreneurship, talk about people really pursuing their goals, because one of my biggest things is to inspire and encourage. So this is a project that I've been supporting and have been a part of.

I have my Common Ground Foundation, which is something I'm really passionate about because seeing young people have a chance is important to me. I'm also producing a television show that I'll be starring in, but that won't happen until the fall. Those are some of the immediate projects and visions and things that I'm doing.

CM: Are there any up-and-coming artists you're really excited about right now?

C: I wouldn't call them up-and-coming but some artists that I like that are doing great work are Kendrick Lamar, and I love what Kanye (West) does. I like (Chicago hip hop artists) Lil Herb and Lil Bibby. Those are most of the artists that I really like right now.