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Common Recalls Trading Bars With Dr. Maya Angelou

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Common‘s publicity tour for his new book has caused him to look back on his relationship with the legendary writer Dr. Maya Angelou.

While appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Thursday (January 18) to promote And Then We Rise: A Guide to Loving and Taking Care of Self, the Chi-town rapper was prompted by Colbert to recall the origins of his “long and fruitful relationship” with Angelou, the author, poet, and activist who wrote the acclaimed autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the Pulitzer-nominated poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, among numerous other works.

Common recounted that sometime in the late aughts, his mother reached out to Dr. Angelou, who she didn’t know, in order to ask her to take part in a benefit where Common was also appearing.

“[Dr. Angelou] didn’t really know who Common was, but her grandson did,” Common said. “So she invited me over to have lunch with her at her apartment in Harlem.”

He added: “We sat there for hours and I was just like, ‘Man, I’m sitting with the person that really started me to writing.’ Dr. Maya Angelou, when I was in elementary school, she was the writer that I remembered that made me want to write.”

Questioned by Colbert as to whether he and Dr. Angelou “trade[d] bars” at their initial meeting, Common said that Angelou would “give you bars and bars,” but that he “wasn’t at her level.”

He did, however, share that he got to rap at her birthday party in 2010. “I gave her some bars then,” he laughed.

You can see the full exchange below.

Common has been busy with other ventures besides just promoting And Then We Rise.

Earlier this month, SMAC Entertainment announced that they are partnering with the Be hitmaker on a new deal to help expand their roster. According to Deadline, the MC and actor will aid the team with “strategic brand partnerships and endorsements, non-scripted projects, and brand development for future products and collaborations.”

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome Common to the SMAC family,” CEO Constance Schwartz-Morini said about the alliance. “His commitment to keeping it real and making a difference aligns perfectly with our motivating force at SMAC and we believe Common is not just a great fit; he’s a game-changer. We can’t wait to take off on this exciting journey together!”

This latest venture doesn’t mean that Common has quietly backed away from music.

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In November, the Chicago rap veteran locked in with DJ Premier to release a new track called “In Moe (Speculation),” their first collaboration in almost a decade.

Just weeks prior, Primo took to IG to promote his a new project, Beats That Collected Dust, Vol. 3, an anthology of instrumentals that have, in the producer’s words, “reached the stage of collecting dust.”

The accompanying promo clip found the legendary producer in front of a DJ set up, previewing a track then simply titled “Moe.”

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