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Let Love Have the Last Word

A Memoir

By Common
13-minute read
Audio available
Let Love Have the Last Word: A Memoir by Common

Let Love Have the Last Word (2019) is equal parts memoir and rallying cry. It recounts landmark events from the life of the rapper Common, giving readers a glimpse of the man behind the microphone, and showing how love – of family and self, of God and music – has guided him on his path. Love, Common reminds us, is the greatest weapon we have in a darkening world.

  • People seeking to live a life of love
  • Rap fans interested in a personal look at one of the genre’s stars
  • Parents striving to sustain strong relationships with their children

Common is a critically acclaimed musician and actor. For his music, he’s won multiple Grammy Awards, as well as both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the song “Glory” from the movie Selma. He also had the honor of performing in Obama’s White House. He’s acted in multiple hit films and TV series, including Scrubs, Selma and Girls Trip. His previous book, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, was a New York Times best seller. 

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Let Love Have the Last Word

A Memoir

By Common
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Let Love Have the Last Word: A Memoir by Common
Synopsis

Let Love Have the Last Word (2019) is equal parts memoir and rallying cry. It recounts landmark events from the life of the rapper Common, giving readers a glimpse of the man behind the microphone, and showing how love – of family and self, of God and music – has guided him on his path. Love, Common reminds us, is the greatest weapon we have in a darkening world.

Key idea 1 of 8

Common always wanted to be an artist, and he uses his art to generate love.

Common wasn’t always named Common. 

Born in Chicago, in 1972, he was given two names, Lonnie and Rashid: the first Christian, the second Muslim. His father gave him these names, believing that each contained “the same love.”

Love – of family, of God, of music – has guided Common’s life ever since, though he doesn’t claim to know more about love than anyone else. What he does know is that he loves to create, to perform, to rap.

He knew this even as a boy. Common remembers telling his mother that he wanted to be a star after seeing Michael Jackson on TV doing the moonwalk.

Later, he studied the music of rappers like Rakim and Big Daddy Kane, composing his first verses at the age of 12. Back then, all he wanted was to gain the admiration of his hip-hop loving friends and to rock the mic like a real MC.

As he got a little older, though, he began to realize that hip-hop wasn’t merely a means to an eminent end; it was an end in itself, a space where he and his peers could put words to their feelings and preoccupations.

It was a love of this space that inspired the young Rashid to change his name and pursue a career as a rapper. Now, as a man in his mid-forties, Common likens parts of his artistic practice to prayer.

For example, he loves to drive in his truck, the warm Los Angeles sun on his face, his mind on the road. And while he drives, he likes to freestyle, coming up with off-the-cuff lyrics. As he puts it, to freestyle is “to rap in the present.”

The only other time Common feels so situated in the now is during his daily meditation session, a kind of silent prayer. Rising early each morning, Common uses this time to enter the present moment, where, he believes, both God and love are located.

Whether extemporizing lyrics or silently communing with God, Common tries to find the love that exists in the present, and to use this love to better both himself and humanity.

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