It’s been nearly 10 years since Detroit, Michigan musician J Dilla passed away due to complications from Lupus. And according to Common, it wasn’t until he recorded “Rewind That,” a song featured on his newly-released album, that he finally fully dealt with the death of his friend.
During an interview with Rikki Martinez of Power 106, Common revealed that he approached No I.D. about the concept of revisiting the past on “Rewind That.” He said that it was No I.D. who then suggested that he rap about his relationship with J Dilla on the record.
Following the completion of the song, Common shared that he felt healed and was even able to carry a picture of the late producer with him, a feat he previously could not do.
“It was one of those things I had thought about—the song ‘Rewind That’ and talking about going back in time,” Common said. “And I was talking to No I.D. about it. And he was like ‘Man, you might wanna talk about Jay Dee.’ And I was like ‘Man, I never even thought about wanting to do it because it was something so personal to me.’ But I do talk about personal things. It was just one of those hurtful things. You lose somebody. It was heavy and I hadn’t really dealt with it all the way. So, this was really a true example of when you express yourself and release it through the music and through your art. It really was like healing for me in a way. I used to couldn’t carry pictures of Dilla around cause [it] would always make me think about something sad. Once I did that I kinda like—I got a picture of him in my phone and I’m like ‘Man, that’s my man.’”
The Chicago rapper later spoke on addressing the problems in his city and across America on his new album, Nobody’s Smiling. He said that although he addresses a number of grave topics, the project is more than just “a serious album.”
Common Explains Chicago's Significance On Nobody's Smiling
The Windy City wordsmith also commended the likes of N.W.A. and Compton lyricist Kendrick Lamar for being able to release good music that still has a message.
“I really want to create change in Chicago and really across America,” he said. “Like Chicago’s a representation of what’s going on in America anyway. Obviously it’s been more murders out there, but you know, it’s been stuff out here in L.A. It’s stuff in Atlanta. Just different places. So, my thing was ‘Man, let’s really create some change.’ Because we can use the music to do great things. I mean, the music is fun, point blank. I ain’t gonna front. The album is not just like a serious album, but it is there to bring attention. And everything revolving around it does have some Chicago theme, but it’s like universal still. I always received that from Hip Hop, for me. I mean, even if it was N.W.A. I still was getting something. When you listen to Kendrick Lamar you get something. I love Hip Hop that has that. Where it’s raw. It’s real. But you still might walk away with something like ‘Man, I’m about to go do something in life’ or ‘I learned something from this music.’”
During his interview, Common also discussed battling fellow Chicago artist Kanye West during an appearance on a college radio station years ago. He recalled being "bubbly" during the battle and looking back, wished he was sober.
Common’s interview on Power 106 can be found below.