COMMON x LinkedIn’s “How I Got Here”

Contributed by LinkedIn

On the latest episode of “How I Got Here” on LinkedIn, Common sits down with LinkedIn’s Senior Editor Maya Pope-Chappell to discuss how growing up in Chicago influenced his career choices, transitioning from rapper actor to activist, and the keys to his success. 


Watch the full interview here.



“The influence of Chicago on my career and life is one of the greatest reasons why I’m an artist, and why I’m the type of artist that I am. In Chicago, I learned a lot about being a black person. Black culture wasn’t like, I was given instructions; it was just that I lived in a black neighborhood that was teaching me about everything from Malcolm X to gang-banging culture. Everything from jazz music to church… helped shape me, and gave me an authenticity that I always wear that like it’s an armor now. I’m a Chicagoan that has that truth in me, and I think it really also gave me a perseverance that has allowed me in my career to keep that drive and keep that belief going.” 



“My mother had a great influence on me as far as my work ethic, discipline. She is a … retired teacher, retired principal. Her principles in life were like, ‘achieve, go do well.’ … I had to do book reports for her outside of school….She made sure I was in computer classes. It was those extracurricular projects that she had me do to help me see outside of just work, how you have to work extra… when I leave my job, the work don’t stop. That was some of the mentality that she instilled in me and, from there, I wanted it, to be honest. It was like a great seed she planted, and I kind of allowed it to grow by just being like, ‘Man, what is my goal? What is my vision for myself? Okay this is going to take that work.’”



“As a child I was thinking about my goals: first of all, I wanted to be something. As a child I wanted people to know I existed on this planet, and that could have been like a small group of people, but I wanted to leave an impact. I wanted to impact people. I didn’t how I would do that, I just wanted to play basketball in the NBA, eventually music became that thing because I had heroes like Muhammad Ali, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who I looked up to.”



“When I wrote my first rap, all my homies, all the friends around the neighborhood was like saying it. They were like, ‘Oh, this is dope.’ They were with me on it. They started learning my rap, because you know, you say it over and over, and they knew my rap. I knew that made me feel good to hear them do that. and that was one of the things I still love about hip-hop. It allowed me to be confident within myself and a way to express myself …. I love that because in everyday life, I didn’t have that confidence yet. So it was like, ‘I can live in that space,’ and that showed me that I did have certain confidence. I just had to live up to it.” 



“I was in school at Florida A&M, I actually was a great student. I had just gotten a 4.0 after my second semester of freshman year, going into my sophomore year…. I got a call from a record label, Relativity Records, and they were saying they wanted to have a meeting with me….  I have a meeting with Peter Kane — and he was the A&R — and he said he wanted to sign me. When it’s time for me to leave school because I do get the deal, my mother’s like, ‘wait!’ She barely knew I rapped, to be honest. Because I didn’t play any instruments, she didn’t even think of me in that way. Man it was a tough, tough talk and the plan was, ‘I’m walking out on faith. I’m going out here to pursue my dream,’ and my mother said, ‘well, if it doesn’t work, I want you to go back to school after a year or two.’ Really she kind of gave me a two-year window; but in my plan, in my mind was this is it. Like this is my passion, this is what I’m purposed to do. I’m going to make it happen, it’s going to happen….”



“Man, it was discouraging. I was hurt that my album didn’t come out and I didn’t get that recognition of the artists that I already looked up to and I thought I was going to be on that level…. I remember, it was a summer where A Tribe Called Quest had the album out, Midnight Marauders, and they put everybody on the cover. New artists, Souls of Mischief. They put Far Side, they put Large Professor. All these artists, they were my age. And I wasn’t on that cover. That cover was hanging up in my room. It was hanging up for two reasons: because I loved the album and because I wasn’t on the cover. It was motivation. As many times as I got turned down, it just made me figure out ways that I could improve. I was kind of combining the fact that I do believe in myself overall, that I’m supposed to be here, and I can do the work to be here, in that greatness level. And then a certain aspect of it was, ‘Okay, if I’m not as good as I should be, I need to be working on it. I’m going to work on it. So I’m going to get to that great level.’”



“ The key to my success has been faith. Has been putting faith with work. Faith without work is death. That has been the two key components. Along with that, being humble. Humble enough to know that I still have to learn and can be better. So that means even when I reach a certain level, it’s like, ‘okay, I can be better.’ I haven’t reached my highest peak or highest level. And also, just commitment. Determination. All those things… Discipline fits under that box. Perseverance is under that box. I’ve seen success and continued to keep moving toward success.”


About Post Author


From the Web

Skip to content