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Common Says AAHH!

“Lay it down for the world, Chicago I stand…do it for the hometown and the homies.” – Common, Speak My Piece

Common is one of those few artists who stands by his truth. In addition to music and movies, the core of his being is dedicated to inner-city youth and improving lives.

He’s real and uses his platform to extend social messages to the masses, such as the prominent moment during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards when he shared this purpose: “Hip-hop has always been about truth and a powerful statement for social change.”

The statement was proceeded with a moment of silence for Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot down by an officer in Ferguson, MO.

“Speaking out is one of the most important things you can do,” says Common in a one-on-one chat with JET. “Then you tie that in with being active. Everybody within the hip-hop community responded to Ferguson because we relate to it and we understand it. It’s disturbing and hurts everybody that’s a part of the community.”

Through his Common Ground Foundation and partnering with other organizations such as Donda’s House, where Che ‘RhymeFest’ Smith serves as the creative director, the work toward providing opportunities to youth as well as creating change are evident and done so creatively.

“I have to commend Rhymefest. The dude’s been putting in work and wanting to change things for a long time and has been active with it,” Common tells JET. “I feel like my heart has always been into improving the conditions for people in our city and helping our city. I made a commitment to being more active for our city, being more present.”

Common’s presence never left Chi-town and that’s just one of the reasons why people love the soulful rapper.

On September 21, the Common effect will be felt in full as he presents the Windy City with the AAHH! Fest in Union Park. Hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle, Common and his team have curated a talented roster that includes De La Soul, MC Lyte, Jay Electronica, Lupe Fiasco, Jennifer Hudson and new artist Lil’ Herb.

Additionally, the day-long festival will give opportunities for youth to learn various facets of production. There is also mention of a “very special guest” who Common teases as “one of the most incredibly talented and gifted people I know.”

Word on the street is that this artist is none other than Kanye West himself, but you ain’t heard that from us!

But back to the underground ability Common hopes to unearth… The rapper says he is pulled in by hip-hop hunger, and therefore wants to be part of bringing new voices to the forefront.

“They’re bringing that excitement of rap – the talent, the voice with it,” Common explains. “They’re bringing that Chi talk and I just love it! It’s something about this new generation of artists from Chicago that’s just special.”

His sentiment even plays into the inaugural fest’s moniker.

“The festival is the beginning of something big that we wanted to bring to Chicago,” Com continues. “We call it the AAHH! Festival because we want it to be a breath of fresh air. It’s a festival that brings some happiness with music and art and the culture. Chicago deserves that, man. We’re one of the greatest cities in the world.”

AAHH! Fest by Common will be held on September 21 at Union Park. For ticket information and full line-up of events, visit www.aahhfest.com. JET will be in the building, providing live social media coverage and on-the-spot interviews, so stay tuned for more. Also, be sure to check for Common in a new Ava DuVernay film Selma, coming in December.

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