Common's a staple in hip hop and worked with some of the best names in music for over 20 years, but he considers himself an emerging artist with the release of his tenth studio album, "Nobody's Smiling."
"The album for me is really a chance to give back," Common tells BreatheHeavy.com outside his appearance at Marquee nightclub at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. "It's a chance for me to give back in a new way, and it's a chance to expand my audience and show who I am as a new artist. [The album's] incredible. I've been inspired."
That inspiration Common's talking about transcends into his new music, working exclusively with producer No I.D. for the album.
"I think the music approach is very new and fresh. It's not a sound from No I.D. and Common before. I definitely went to the roots of what I've done before, but I have a new energy, a new hunger. There's audiences out there that don't know Common as a musician."
Artists of his caliber are allowed to refer to themselves in the third person.
The hip hop veteran released "Kingdom" featuring Vince Staples, "Speak My Piece" and "Diamonds" featuring Big Sean off his latest record, and he's already planning a fourth single.
The song's called "Rewind That," a track about No I.D. and his relationship, as well as producer J Dilla's journey, who Common says is one of the "greatest producers ever."
Common also revealed he recently recorded a song with hip hop superstar MC Lite called "Truth" for her upcoming album.
"MC Lite is one of my favorite artists ever in hip hop," he said. "Her voice is one of the greatest voices we've ever heard in hip hop. I'm grateful to be on the song with her... it's an honor."
"I think impact is really very important," Common says of his definition of success in the music biz. "The way you impact people - that's important to me. How people react to my music, and what they say."
His latest album's theme is inspired by the violence and crime in Common's hometown of Chicago - he hopes his music touches the communities dealing with those hardships.
"For me to go to radio stations, and places... people come up to me and say this is one of your best albums, and I see the impact it's having and the discussion it's bringing up about the violence in Chicago. I know we're doing what we're supposed to be doing with the music."
Though he's worked with an array of musicians, Common admits he'd love to collaborate with Jay-Z, Jay Electronica and Radiohead.
"Look out for new projects coming up," he wants his fans to know. "Stay in tuned with the struggle. Always fight for what you believe in, and put God first.
- Jordan Miller, BreatheHeavy.com