Common is addressing the drama that entails Kean University axing him as commencement speaker. And he also reveals why he lip locked with a fan during a performance last month. Get the deets on Common and also get info on Prince’s upcoming Mother’s Day performance for peace in Baltimore inside….
Grammy Award winner Common is speaking out after Kean University announced him as this year’s commencement speaker and then abruptly having a change of heart. The Oscar winner was set to deliver a speech at the May 21st ceremony, but New Jersey State Troopers weren’t having it. They are all up in arms over Common’s 2000 track “A Song for Assata,” a track about Assata Shakur, who was convicted in 1977 of killing Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. Assata eventually escaped from prison and has been living in Cuba as a fugitive.
The “Glory” rapper trekked it back to his hometown and chopped it up with Chicago’s WGCI 107.5 radio Kendra G after he delivered his commencement speech at the City Colleges of Chicago graduation (above) over the weekend. Kean University may have changed their mind, but it’s clear he has the support of the place he calls home.
When asked how he felt about New Jersey State Troopers protesting his speech at Kean University he said:
“I was disappointed I couldn’t speak for the students because they were expressing their wants to have me come out and speak. I also recognize that things that I stand for and believe in, if someone doesn’t want me there for that reason then I’m not going to go. If someone is saying we don’t want you hear because I supported Assata Shakur, who is someone who I believe to be an innocent. Who was a Freedom Fighter. A woman who was apart of the Blank Panthers. Because I did a song about her, if they don’t want me to speak at a college because of that reason, then I mean, I still support her.”
He also opened up on why he decided to kiss a fan on the lips during a performance last month. And it’s clear: He’s a single guy and got caught up in the moment. He said,
“Yes I’m a single man. That was like in the moment performance. We on stage, I’m doing a romantic song with her and I just gave her a kiss. I’m a single guy or I wouldn’t have did that.
Not mad. Just a bit jealous…
The Chi-town native also talked about how it feels to be an Academy Award winner, how Kanye West helped him gain confidence, why he’s traveling to Baltimore and more. Below are the highlights:
On where he keeps his Oscar:
“It’s in my house in L.A.” He said he normally gives his awards for his mother to keep but decided to keep the Oscar with him.
On why Chicago means so much to him:
“The city of Chicago just mean so much to me. It’s my home. I care about their well being about the people here. This is the place that is the root and foundation of who I am. I see the people in my city, they need opportunities and they need support. I’m looking for ways I can give that support and utilize my resources. That’s why I give back.”
On Kanye West helping him to believe in himself:
“I’ve been in the game 12-13 years before Kanye [West] came out but I learned from him. This guy was just really confident and willing to be open with that confidence and not worry about how other people felt about it. And I think that’s a really admirable trait to have. People like Muhammad Ali, they carried that trait. We [black people] have to learn how to embrace our greatness.”
On going out to Baltimore:
“What I’m going to do is what I feel like is important to the process of helping communities. I go out and listen to what’s going and try to see what the community needs. I’m connecting with some of the people just to hear what the community needs and how we can deliver what resources I can get with other artists and other activists. I just really go in and see where I can help.”
On his upcoming projects:
“It’s based in Chicago but we’re going to film some of it in Atlanta. But it’s Chicago based. It’s a lot of the cast from the original barbershops. I’m really excited about it. We got Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Nicki Minaj, J.B. Smoove. And I’m also doing Suicide Squad with Will Smith, Viola Davis and Jared Leto. And I’m doing another movie called Hunter Killer.
Peep his full interview below:
Coming this Sunday….
Prince will be showing support to Baltimore with a performance on Mother’s Day after the uprising in the weeks before, following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody.
The Purple One will be hitting the stage at the Royal Farms Arena for the “Rally 4 Peace” concert on Sunday. The event is meant to be “a catalyst for pause and reflection” following the recent looting, riots and protests that plagued the city after the young man’s death. He will be joined by his band 3RDEYEGIRL and a portion of the proceeds will benefit youth charities in Baltimore. Sweet!
The “Rally 4 Peace” concert comes on the heels of Freddie’s death being ruled a homicide by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and six police officers being charged in his death, including a murder charge for one officer.
Peep Common’s commencement speech at City Colleges of Chicago graduation this past Saturday below:
Photos: Getty/Common’s IG