Common recounts the story behind the first rap record he bought — and the first rhyme he wrote — in an excerpt from his upcoming Audible original, Bluebird Memories: A Journey Through Lyrics and Life, out August 4th.
Common recorded Bluebird Memories at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City in January, mixing storytelling and music with the help of a full band, featuring a special guest appearance from jazz musician Robert Grasper. In the preview clip, Common speaks to his late father, who bought him his first rap record, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s The Message (Common even performs a snippet of the iconic title-track).
While his dad wasn’t up on hip-hop at the time, Common says he took to it immediately and that, within a few years, he was writing his own rhymes. He even recites a bit from the first rap he ever wrote — at least the bars that he can remember. “From that, I didn’t stop,” Common says, before easing into a rendition of his famous 1994 single about hip-hop’s evolution, “I Used to Love H.E.R.”
While hip-hop plays a major role in the story Common tells in Bluebird Memories, he also focuses heavily on the non-musical literary heroes that inspired him, such as James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks. Common wrote the show with theater director Awoye Timpo and playwright NSangou Njikam. Listen to Bluebird Memories with a 30-day free trial to Audible here.