18 2 / 2012
I’ll get straight to the point, mainly because I’ve been slacking on my reviews and have a few more to post. This book was very “meh” to me. Unless you are a die hard, dedicated Common fan, enjoy hip hop, or love reading surface level biographies, you won’t be missing out on much by passing up this read.
As most of us know, Common is a well known rapper who dabbles in the conscious side of hip hop. This book explains his upbringing, with his highly educated mother having a huge influence on his work ethic and self esteem. He delves in to the issues he has with his father, and how that may have had a bearing on his development as a man, and how he relates to women. He shares his education, his jump into the music scene, his relationships, the birth of his daughter, and his growth as an actor.
Common starts off each chapter with a letter to someone important in his life, whether he’s known the person in real life or not. The letters were quite corny to me, but other readers may enjoy them. His mother also lends her opinions, through excerpts about his life while growing up and maturing into a man.
It was interesting, but extremely redundant. Common had a pattern of explaining a fault or issue that he had while growing up, whether it be anger management or dealing with too many women, and the conclusion would be along the lines of, “It was then that I decided to become a better man”, but there would be no progress explained. What did you do to become a better man, Common?, I found myself asking the pages. It doesn’t happen over night, right? And the point of reflection and improvement and sharing your story is to… ACTUALLY SHARE YOUR STORY.
I can see many readers bypassing this discrepancy in his writing, but as an advanced reader who is also trained in writing, I find myself wondering why his co-author or editor didn’t have him explain his processes of maturity, especially when most of the purpose of the book was to promote his positive ascendance into manhood.
They may have decided to not get too detailed about his life on purpose, which is understandable. I don’t fault celebrities for wanting to keep some parts of their lives private. But then again, if that is the case, don’t write a book about your life.
I was astonished to see how open he was about his break up with Erykah Badu, though. That, and his mother sharing her relationship with Donda West, Kanye’s mother, were a few of my favorite parts. It also reminded me of a lot of Common’s music that I had completely forgotten about, and his chapter on renowned music producer Jay Dilla, was very eye opening . Other than that, this read was a waste of my time.
I’d suggest this book to those who love Common, hip hop, or musical biographies.