By// Mariah Craddick
There are several things that can be said of rapper/actor/author Common’s career thus far: 1.) He’s made the successful transition from critically-acclaimed rapper to respected actor – a rare feat; 2.) He’s used his fame and revered status for good through constant activism and philanthropic work; and 3.) He’s never forgotten his South Side Chicago roots and has always found ways to give back to his hood.
That’s why Common and his Common Ground Foundation recently teamed up with Case-Mate and AT&T to create the Common Ground Foundation Collection of smartphone cases which will help benefit Chicago’s youth.
Inspired by graffiti art, mosaics, urban murals and sculptures, six Case-Mate designs were selected for the collection and are available to purchase in AT&T’s Chicago flagship store at 600 N. Michigan Avenue, other AT&T retail stores across the greater Chicagoland area, and online at ATT.com.
JETmag.com caught up with the always-conscious Common to discuss his foundation’s newest project, the plight of youth in Chicago, and what’s next on his plate:
What was the idea behind this partnership between your foundation, Case-Mate, and AT&T?
The idea was sparked because we wanted to help the youth all across the country, specifically in Chicago. There was a real good connection between myself, Case-Mate, and AT&T because we all really want to do quality work, affect the community, and help young people. Being that they wanted to assist the Common Ground Foundation it was just the right situation.
How were the designs selected?
Really, it came from the Case-Mate family. But this is only the first phase; we want to have different people submit designs and graphic designers submit their designs and choose the best.
What other kind of things do you have planned next for your foundation?
We have our annual gala on March 23rd; this will be our third one. We honor people who affect the world and the community in different facets. This year we’ll be honoring Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Gabby Douglass, and two local people who’ve impacted the community. That raises money for the foundation. It’s already sold out.
In your opinion, what do you think it will take for the city of Chicago to really improve as far as violence, education, and so on?
I think one thing is we have to take it as a village, as a community, and really take responsibility for others. Some children might not be your cousin, or your child, or your nephew or niece, but they’re still yours. And we have to figure out how would we want our kids to spend their after-school time? What schools would we want for our kids? What would we like the schools to look like? Programs for kids after-school are very helpful because the more time you got on your hands doing nothing, the more you produce nothing. But if you can actually have something that you’re interested in, you can look forward to it.
It’s people within the community in Chicago who have already been working to stop the violence and help young people. We need to be able to listen to them and see what works, what doesn’t work, and be able to pay attention so that we can come in with the right projects.
What’s coming up for you – music-wise?
I have a mixtape that I’m working on and an album that’ll be out later in the year. I’m going back to film the third season of Hell On Wheels. Also, I’m in a film called Now You See Me coming out in the summer. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson – some really good actors. I am official.
For each smartphone case purchased, a $5 donation will be made to support the Common Ground Foundation. You can purchase a case by clicking here.