Your girlfriend’s favorite rapper is on the cover of your mother’s favorite magazine. Common is the man of the month for the newest issue of EBONY magazine.

Written by Jamilah Lemieux, Common is profiled as he whisks around California back-and-forth from video shoots. In the story, Common plays Lemieux a few cuts from his upcoming EP that gets revealed as being called Little Chicago Boy. He also opens up about his 2002 album Electric Circus, that still has fans scratching their heads, and ears, to this day.


And even after 10 studio albums, a live record and two greatest-hits compilations under his belt, he’s as excited as an unsigned kid when he plays five cuts for me from Little Chicago Boy, his soon-to-be-released EP, even rapping to one track that did not yet feature his vocals. They are classic Common—thoughtful lyrics, social commentary (including references to Black Lives Matter and Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old whose mysterious death would be a rallying point for the anti-police violence movement), sexy love—with lush contributions from Robert Glasper and longtime collaborator Karriem Riggins, both known for their ability to marry hip-hop and jazz.

And don’t get it twisted because of his SAG card: Common still loves H.E.R., and his Hollywood reinvention has helped keep that flame lit. He credits acting with allowing him to be “more introspective and more free” as a rapper: “I’ve tapped into new things about me that I didn’t even know.”

It was a complicated time in his musical career that would bring him to Tinseltown in the first place.  “I started acting because after Electric Circus, I hit a ceiling. Like, ‘Where in hip-hop can I go that I can be free and be me without [somebody saying], ‘Aw man, why you doing this, why you doing that?’”

Common has been hinting at new music on social media for some months now. He got fans even more excited when he demolished a freestyle on Sway In the Morning earlier this month. This could be interesting.

Photo: EBONY Screenshot

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