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Grammy-winning rapper Common is known as one of the more progressive and positive rappers in the business. He says that his beliefs stem from his earliest memories of listening to the music. "Hip-hop was telling stories about consciousness," he says. "I learned about the Bible through hip-hop. I learned about … uplifting black women. I started changing my way of thinking because of hip-hop."

Though he loves the music and the culture, Common admits that it has taken a turn. "Hip-hop has been this child that we had. Our elders kind of abandoned the child at a young age and said, 'Okay, we don't really understand this. We don't relate to this,'" he says. "And now as hip-hop has evolved and grown up, our parents are expecting hip-hop to be perfect and to be right."

Despite staying clear of such denigrating ideas in his own music, Common says he refuses to abandon the culture. "I'm going to ride with my hip-hop people, because if I divide myself that's going to continue to keep the problem going," he says. "If criticism could come with love, we can make some progress."
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FROM: After Imus: The Hip-Hop Community Responds
Published on July 13, 2009

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