Rapper Common making the ‘case’ for youth

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Legendary hip hop artist and actor Common has partnered with Case-Mate and AT&T to create art enthused cell phone cases to benefit Chicago’s youth.

Available for the iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3, the chic cell phone case art was inspired by mosaics, urban murals and graffiti for a hip and trendy appeal – and also offer a chance to contribute to a good cause. The cases retail for $50 each with $5 of that going to Common’s non-profit Common Ground Foundation. The cases are available for purchase online and at 40 retail stores across the Chicagoland area including AT&T’s flagship store at 600 N. Michigan Ave. in the city.

Chicago-native Common greeted his fans and signed autographs there last week. He told the Defender how he go connected with the special retail buy.

 “They expressed how they wanted to support the Common Ground Foundation and we wanted to find out the right way to do it,” the Grammy Award winner shared. “We knew (Case-Mate) had a relationship that they were building with AT&T and I had worked with AT&T already going around the country for the past two years doing work for them for Black History Month so it all just really tied in.

 “When we found out that Case-Mate wanted to do a special Common Ground Foundation collection and that AT&T would be associated with it and some of the money being able to go to the foundation, the partnership just seemed meant to be.”

Common, who last year celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut album, “Can I Borrow A Dollar,” didn’t have a part in the actual case designs but expressed how proud he was that they represented one of his loves: hip hop.

“Case-Mate came up with them but I believe they wanted to have a graffiti, mosaic, fresh type of look to it so I feel good that people associate it with graffiti because that’s hip hop. It’s good to have that. That’s my foundation,” said the star of  the movie “L.U.V.,” which opened earlier this year.

 Recognized by CNN Heroes and the BET Hip Hop Awards for doing great work in urban communities, the Common Ground Foundation has created several initiatives to benefit youth between the ages of 13-15 that include mentoring programs, a summer youth camp, as well as a curriculum that promotes healthy living and creative expression while helping children maintain high academic standards.

The South Sider, who also released his memoir “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” inspired by the name of his third album, understands the importance of programs like his foundation for children around the globe and especially those in Chicago.

“I would like to see the children of Chicago dream and be able to reach those dreams through the journey of life and have the most support possible. I hope that the children of Chicago can have greater opportunities to reach higher than we reached. If one of them wants to be an educator, I want them to be the best educator they can be,” he told the Defender. “I want them to pick something that they really love and go out and be the best at it.”

 Although his thriving career as an actor with the hit TV series “Hell On Wheels” and the upcoming film “Now You See Me,” which also stars Morgan Freeman, places him in numerous cities, Common still pays close attention to what’s going on his hometown. And with the increase in gun violence – especially among youth, Common says it makes him want to do more.

“It makes me want to work even harder to see what I can do. I used to stay away from the news a little bit but I gotta know what’s going on. It just makes things that more urgent,” he said. “I feel compassion at the end of the day. You pray for these families and you just think about what can you do. It’s a real wake up call. But I think we’ve all been, as a community, wanting to see better but when things like that happen, it just makes you move faster.”

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