For the cover art to the deluxe edition of Common’s upcoming album, Nobody’s Smiling, the rapper chose to include several artists who also hail from Chicago. Among the artists included on the deluxe album cover art are Lil Bibby, Lil Herb, Dreezy, and King Louie.

And during an interview on The Combat Jack Show, Common revealed the reason why he chose to put others on his album cover art. According to the Windy City emcee, he saw his album cover as “a way to give back” and bring attention to artists who may not be as well known outside of Chicago.

He also added that those featured on his album cover art were grateful and curious as to why he chose to include them.

“For me those covers, putting Lil Herb, putting Dreezy, putting Lil Bibby. Some people don’t know about them,” Common said. “I know about them and the Chi know about em. And it’s some people in the world that know about em. You see em on certain Hip Hop avenues, but everybody don’t know about em. And for me putting em on my album cover is a way to give back. Saying ‘Look, we are all one in the same.’ You know what I’m saying? ‘I see y’all I see me. So, that’s why I’m putting y’all on my cover.’ I don’t need to be on the cover. I ain’t even in my first video…I asked em. I called them. I was like ‘Man, I want y’all to be on the cover of the album.’ And they all came to this hotel room and we took the pictures…King Louie was grateful. Cats was grateful. They also was getting like—Trying to understand ‘Man, what Common on?’ Cause they didn’t know me that well.”

Prior to speaking on his album cover art, Common shared a quote from KRS-One that’s stuck with him throughout his career.

“It’s something that KRS-One said way back that made me think about just even when you grab the microphone,” the Chicago rapper said. “He’s like, he said ‘You think I’m gonna grab the mic and waste my nation’s time?’ Meaning like you get a microphone you get a chance to say something. It ain’t always gotta be like conscious, but if you can offer something. Even just some of your experiences then, man that might help. You know? And at the end of the day, man, we all want the world to get better. We want ourselves to get better and want the world to get better. So, when it comes through for me. It comes through like yo, through the things that I do musically. Through me just like going out and being around people that I grew up around and just seeing what’s going on. And being able to channel that and figure out what’s going on and the things that I can change and help.”

Nobody’s Smiling is currently scheduled for release on July 22 via Def Jam Records. Common spoke briefly on the album and working with No I.D. in a recent press release.

“I’m honored to team up with No I.D. and be a part of the Atrium and Def Jam family,” Common said. “Creating this album and signing to Def Jam feels like a new beginning for me. I feel like a new artist because I created this album with the purpose to give back to my city and to the culture of Hip Hop. Def Jam is part of the foundation of hip hop and being able to work with No I.D. was returning to my foundation now with new energy and new hunger.”

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