This Tuesday, the Grammy award winning, 2015 Academy Award winner, hip hop artist Common started off his speech with a freestyle that included the Flying Bison, Bull Run, 7th Street and other trademarks of Bucknell’s campus. 900 faculty, students and other residents attended this Weis Center for the most recent segment of the Revolution Redefined series. Common has achieved a lot in his lifetime, including 3 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award for best original song, and an Academy Award also for best original song, both for the track “Glory” for the film Selma. Along with working along side great artists including Kanye West, Pharrell and Kid Cudi, Common has also made a career as an actor, appearing in big films including American Gangster, Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings and even Happy Feet Two. Common’s inspirational speech focused on greatness. What does it mean to be great according to Common? According to the “Common Dictionary” greatness is reaching your highest potential so that you can inspire others. Common spoke to the audience about powering through the hard times and past those who do not believe in your potential, and looking to see the light in yourself and others. He told personal anecdotes, some more light and witty than others. One that stood out to me, as Kanye has been (per usual) a hot topic, was a time when Common and Kanye were at a ‘listening session’ in which artists preform for journalists. Neither Common nor Kanye had become the big names they are today, and these sessions were crucial for advancing their careers. Kanye went first, and in full Kanye style he jumped on the table and rapped with all his heart drawing a lot of attention to his passion and belief in himself. Kanye believed in himself so much Common started liking songs he didn't even like before. Now, Common wasn't really about that but he did know he had to believe in himself to show the journalist that he was worth the attention. And he did. Through belief in himself, and surrounding himself with people who also believe, he became great. This greatness has taken him all over the world and brought him to the top of the charts in music.
Another moment that stood out to me was in the last Q&A part of the talk. When a student asked Common what was his favorite verse from a rap song, not his own, Common started rapping Nas’ “New York State of Mind”. If anyone in the crowd questioned him as a powerful, poetic, poised and uniquely articulate rapper, Common confirmed right then and there why he was so “great”.
Bucknell was very lucky to have such a respectable, well-known artist come to speak. Music is a great platform to motivate others and hopefully in the future Bucknell will continue selecting inspiring and successful artists.
image by hiphop.sh