11 Songs, 46 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Common’s 12th studio album Let Love was inspired by the second book he’s authored, May 2019’s Let Love Have the Last Word. The publisher’s website describes the book as a rumination on “God, self-love, partners, children, family, and community,” the MC adopting a mission to help others understand what it means to give and receive love. The man once known as Common Sense explores these same themes within Let Love but wants to be clear that the album is far from a musical companion piece. “The book was the seed that started me in this conversation,” he says. “It's not like each song will match a chapter. It's just another form of expression of what I wanted to get out there. I believe that the energy of love and the act of love, the practice of it, is the thing that we can use as individuals and as people to overcome the heaviness of the times. When I say, 'Let love,' I'm saying put love into practice. Allow love to be the law that we abide by.” Below Common explains, track by track, what inspired him to express this on record.

“Good Morning Love”
“I always want the intros to my album to come in like a prayer. This song in particular, I felt like it was a meditation and a prayer that was like, this is how we wake up to the day. I'm just thinking out loud, as many people say. Letting the soul—and what I feel in my heart—just be spoken.”

“HER Love”
“‘HER Love’ is just me talking about hip-hop 25 years from when ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’ was created. So how do I see this culture now? What have I learned about it, and how do I love the music? I just recognize how much this culture's done for me, how much I appreciate it. It's been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I just wanted to acknowledge and to honor it, and honor the new artists that are moving the culture forward.”

“Dwele’s Interlude”
“We had Dwele—[a singer] who’s from Detroit and did a lot of work with Dilla—add on to “HER Love,” and in a moment in the studio, we also had Burniss Travis playing bass, and he just started doing some extra stuff after the song. We just loved the music that he created. For me it was like having somebody to just create a vibe, vocally. I love interludes, so I thought it would be great to have [Dwele] move the story forward. I like collaborating with people that are super talented and just bring different perspective.”

“Hercules”
“‘Hercules’ is the fight, the aggression, the freedom, the creativity, the styles, the joy of being an MC. Also, it's like when you just free with it and not trying to think about things. It’s always from the heart, but it's like, this is me going into my MCing with freedom and joy and the fight in it. Contrary to what many think, I like having fun with it and talking s**t.”

“Fifth Story”
“After we made this song I was like, ‘Man, who could I get to add on and do a hook that will be dope and different?’ We were swirling around different names, and Kareem (Swizz Beatz) played me Leikeli's stuff. I was like, ‘Oh, she dope, I love her voice.’ I just felt like she could rhythmically be dope because she not only rhyming, but then she sings. That's the type of artist that we needed. She knew how to bring that character to it.”

“Forever Your Love”
“This one came because at the beginning of this year my mother was having a surgery. It was supposed to be pretty safe surgery, but as she was going through that, I remember having a moment where I just went and prayed, to try to feel her spirit. Because she was in the surgery a lot longer than they had projected. I just remember thinking about how important my mother is to me, and all the things she did for me, and continues to do, and how our relationship continues to grow. How she's growing. One of the places I first received love was from my mother. And that was probably the greatest love that I received and knew, besides God's love.”

“Leaders”
"“Leaders’ is one of the first songs that I wrote for the album. I just heard that beat, and it sounded like hip-hop to me. It reminded me of some of the stuff that I would rhyme to, like breakbeats—the way the drums were. Then it reminded me of the sample that people use a lot in hip-hop called ‘Nautilus’ by Bob James—just the jazz of it with the hard drums. When I started off, 'I'm into Chi-Town heroes like Fred Hampton and neighborhood Deebos, the rebirth of D-Rose,' I was thinking about Chicago leaders. People who have led us. And it’s a store in Chicago called Leaders, so I was just paying homage to a lot of people that come from Chicago.”

“Memories of Home”
“I wrote this song before I wrote about it in my book. This is a memory that I had never dealt with, and really had tucked away. That's just how some people deal with trauma. But it came up as I was doing a film one time, and I was doing a film that was dealing with sexual abuse, child sexual abuse. As I realized that it happened to me, I started to deal with that memory. That's what I'm supposed to do as an artist. I'm supposed to do that as a child of God, as a human being. And if you're a leader, you got to go places that may feel scary for you to go. I just decided to write about it.”

“Show Me That You Love”
“Music is one of the places I go for salvation. Writing is one of the places I go for my own healing, and my own peace of mind. In writing it, I think I got to see some things that I was thinking and feeling. Also, I knew that my daughter and I, we were working through this. Eventually we had our own therapy session together. I felt like this is a real good dive into what love truly is about, and how it has to be a practice. How it has to be an action. And that you could also learn from your children. And you can learn from people if you just decide to listen.”

“My Fancy Free Future Love”
“This song is definitely written from experience and love that I have for someone, and also going to my imagination to create certain things. Also, it's like the bright side of love—the fun aspects of love, of relationships. And just acknowledging, okay, I'm not perfect, and you not perfect, but we enjoy each other and let's enjoy love and experience it, and this is what I see for us, and this is what I want to see for us. It's a reality and there’s hope in it, a future in it.”

“God Is Love”
"It's truly two of the most important subject matters and words, the two most important subject matters and words in my life. All that I do is God-driven. That doesn't mean I'm perfect. I'm a human being, but I'm saying, my purpose is to exude God. It's to express God. To be able to bring that in music. To be able to bring that in my speeches and my daily activities. To be able to bring that to my relationships and bring that in hip-hop is important for me. It's a duty of mine and what I feel is one of my purposes. I tried to correlate the two to let you see when I'm talking about God, I’m talking about love. When I'm talking about love, I'm talking about God.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Common’s 12th studio album Let Love was inspired by the second book he’s authored, May 2019’s Let Love Have the Last Word. The publisher’s website describes the book as a rumination on “God, self-love, partners, children, family, and community,” the MC adopting a mission to help others understand what it means to give and receive love. The man once known as Common Sense explores these same themes within Let Love but wants to be clear that the album is far from a musical companion piece. “The book was the seed that started me in this conversation,” he says. “It's not like each song will match a chapter. It's just another form of expression of what I wanted to get out there. I believe that the energy of love and the act of love, the practice of it, is the thing that we can use as individuals and as people to overcome the heaviness of the times. When I say, 'Let love,' I'm saying put love into practice. Allow love to be the law that we abide by.” Below Common explains, track by track, what inspired him to express this on record.

“Good Morning Love”
“I always want the intros to my album to come in like a prayer. This song in particular, I felt like it was a meditation and a prayer that was like, this is how we wake up to the day. I'm just thinking out loud, as many people say. Letting the soul—and what I feel in my heart—just be spoken.”

“HER Love”
“‘HER Love’ is just me talking about hip-hop 25 years from when ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’ was created. So how do I see this culture now? What have I learned about it, and how do I love the music? I just recognize how much this culture's done for me, how much I appreciate it. It's been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I just wanted to acknowledge and to honor it, and honor the new artists that are moving the culture forward.”

“Dwele’s Interlude”
“We had Dwele—[a singer] who’s from Detroit and did a lot of work with Dilla—add on to “HER Love,” and in a moment in the studio, we also had Burniss Travis playing bass, and he just started doing some extra stuff after the song. We just loved the music that he created. For me it was like having somebody to just create a vibe, vocally. I love interludes, so I thought it would be great to have [Dwele] move the story forward. I like collaborating with people that are super talented and just bring different perspective.”

“Hercules”
“‘Hercules’ is the fight, the aggression, the freedom, the creativity, the styles, the joy of being an MC. Also, it's like when you just free with it and not trying to think about things. It’s always from the heart, but it's like, this is me going into my MCing with freedom and joy and the fight in it. Contrary to what many think, I like having fun with it and talking s**t.”

“Fifth Story”
“After we made this song I was like, ‘Man, who could I get to add on and do a hook that will be dope and different?’ We were swirling around different names, and Kareem (Swizz Beatz) played me Leikeli's stuff. I was like, ‘Oh, she dope, I love her voice.’ I just felt like she could rhythmically be dope because she not only rhyming, but then she sings. That's the type of artist that we needed. She knew how to bring that character to it.”

“Forever Your Love”
“This one came because at the beginning of this year my mother was having a surgery. It was supposed to be pretty safe surgery, but as she was going through that, I remember having a moment where I just went and prayed, to try to feel her spirit. Because she was in the surgery a lot longer than they had projected. I just remember thinking about how important my mother is to me, and all the things she did for me, and continues to do, and how our relationship continues to grow. How she's growing. One of the places I first received love was from my mother. And that was probably the greatest love that I received and knew, besides God's love.”

“Leaders”
"“Leaders’ is one of the first songs that I wrote for the album. I just heard that beat, and it sounded like hip-hop to me. It reminded me of some of the stuff that I would rhyme to, like breakbeats—the way the drums were. Then it reminded me of the sample that people use a lot in hip-hop called ‘Nautilus’ by Bob James—just the jazz of it with the hard drums. When I started off, 'I'm into Chi-Town heroes like Fred Hampton and neighborhood Deebos, the rebirth of D-Rose,' I was thinking about Chicago leaders. People who have led us. And it’s a store in Chicago called Leaders, so I was just paying homage to a lot of people that come from Chicago.”

“Memories of Home”
“I wrote this song before I wrote about it in my book. This is a memory that I had never dealt with, and really had tucked away. That's just how some people deal with trauma. But it came up as I was doing a film one time, and I was doing a film that was dealing with sexual abuse, child sexual abuse. As I realized that it happened to me, I started to deal with that memory. That's what I'm supposed to do as an artist. I'm supposed to do that as a child of God, as a human being. And if you're a leader, you got to go places that may feel scary for you to go. I just decided to write about it.”

“Show Me That You Love”
“Music is one of the places I go for salvation. Writing is one of the places I go for my own healing, and my own peace of mind. In writing it, I think I got to see some things that I was thinking and feeling. Also, I knew that my daughter and I, we were working through this. Eventually we had our own therapy session together. I felt like this is a real good dive into what love truly is about, and how it has to be a practice. How it has to be an action. And that you could also learn from your children. And you can learn from people if you just decide to listen.”

“My Fancy Free Future Love”
“This song is definitely written from experience and love that I have for someone, and also going to my imagination to create certain things. Also, it's like the bright side of love—the fun aspects of love, of relationships. And just acknowledging, okay, I'm not perfect, and you not perfect, but we enjoy each other and let's enjoy love and experience it, and this is what I see for us, and this is what I want to see for us. It's a reality and there’s hope in it, a future in it.”

“God Is Love”
"It's truly two of the most important subject matters and words, the two most important subject matters and words in my life. All that I do is God-driven. That doesn't mean I'm perfect. I'm a human being, but I'm saying, my purpose is to exude God. It's to express God. To be able to bring that in music. To be able to bring that in my speeches and my daily activities. To be able to bring that to my relationships and bring that in hip-hop is important for me. It's a duty of mine and what I feel is one of my purposes. I tried to correlate the two to let you see when I'm talking about God, I’m talking about love. When I'm talking about love, I'm talking about God.”

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