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Men's Health

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Q&A With Common

The musician/actor talks about his latest film, his health, being a dad, and his work with children.


"It wasn’t that my heart wasn’t always into that, I like to create positive vibrations, but it became more of a duty to do that. I knew that it was time for me to start having even a greater purpose in my music. That was a turning point, a shift. As much as I had to be responsible and say something in my music, I also have to be honest and true to where I am. Just because you become a parent doesn’t take you away from being a young man, a fun-loving person."

What has been your toughest moment as a father?

Truly, I think one of the hardest things has been just not going forward in a relationship with my daughter’s mom. That’s a hard thing because, you know, hey, I’m supposed to be here and be present, but I don’t necessarily want to be in a relationship with the person, so what do I do? I knew if I wasn’t happy I couldn’t be a good father and a good person, so I had to choose to be the best father I could be even though we might not be the traditional married family. It’s also hard because I have to make sure to allocate time to be the best father I can be when I’m in an industry that’s so demanding, especially when you’re the artist. You gotta show up when some of the other people on the team don’t have to physically be there.

You’re about to start filming the third season of Hell on Wheels, the AMC post-Civil War drama about the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. How has playing the emancipated slave Elam affected you?

It definitely has led me to understand American history more, and the relationship between blacks and whites -- it wasn’t all "black and white." I’ve learned how significant the African people were to the struggle and the building of this country. I knew that, but when you start learning more details about what black people went through in the building of this country...honestly, along with the president being who he is, doing this show helps me to feel more American. Like, okay, I’m a part of this country!

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