Rolling Stone‘s Evan Serpick recently sat down with Common — who scored his first-ever chart-topping debut with Finding Forever earlier this month — to talk about the ups and downs of working with Kanye West, vegetarianism and being labeled a “conscious rapper.” Here are some of the best parts of their conversation:
Common examines how working with Kanye has changed his creative process, and what it’s like to butt heads with West in the studio: “I think he added a good amount of leadership and really stepped in as a producer, meaning he really would help work on the hooks and different nuances about the song. He had a fire. He was like, “Man, we’re gonna make this successful!” A lot of times, we’d disagree.
Common on being called a “conscious rapper”: “I love it. At first I used to feel like, ‘Man, why they call me that?’ But I thought about conscious artists — you look throughout history, the artists that they call conscious are the Marvin Gayes or the Bob Marleys, Bob Dylan. There have always been people who try and talk trash about conscious rappers, like Ice Cube back in the day, or this week, 50 Cent talking about Kanye. I think Tupac was a good example of the balance of who we are as people. You could do songs that would be going at another rapper and be talking about thug life, but then you could do a ‘Dear Mama.'”
The longtime vegetarian chats about his recent decision to start eating fish, and what he thinks PETA will say: “They definitely might not be happy about that, but you know, you’ve got to live for yourself and believe in what you believe in and do the things that you do. PETA, I got love for the people from PETA, and when I was a vegetarian, I was supporting the movement, but most important — and I say this to everybody: What’s most important is what comes out of your mouth, not what you put in.”