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Hip-hop artist/actor/author Common, founder of Common Ground Foundation, to speak at SU

March 24, 2010

Kevin Morrow
(315) 443-3784

Grammy Award-winning recording artist, actor and author Common (Lonnie Rashid Lynn) will speak and perform selections of poetry as a guest of the Student African American Society and the Muslim Student Association at Syracuse University on Tuesday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Hendricks Chapel. Tickets—$5 for SU students; $7 for SU faculty and staff, and the general public—are available at the box office in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center.  

The two sponsoring organizations are hosting 15 students each from Nottingham High School and Jamesville-DeWitt High School for the lecture.

“Both SAS and MSA are dedicated to educating and empowering students. Both organizations serve the community in various ways and are bringing youths to this event to further engage them and continuously build a bridge between the community and the University,” says Nyuma Njie, president of the Student African American Society and vice president of programming for the Muslim Students Association. “With Common being the ‘King of Conscious Hip-Hop’ and creating the Common Ground Foundation, he is able to convey our message and help us build a bridge amongst different groups on campus and attract the youth.”

Common is one of hip-hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists, with albums “Can I Borrow a Dollar?” (1992), “Resurrection” (1994), “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” (1997), “Like Water For Chocolate” (2000), “Electric Circus” (2002), “BE” (2005), “Finding Forever” (2007) and “Universal Mind Control” (2008).With both “BE” and “Finding Forever,” he partnered with Chicago native and rap music megastar Kanye West as producer. This dynamic partnership resulted in four Grammy Award nominations, in addition to two MTV Video Music Awards nominations, including Best Hip Hop Video.

Common won his first Grammy in 2003, for his appearance on Erykah Badu’s song “Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop).” In 2008, he was awarded his second Grammy, for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for “Southside” (featuring West) from the “Finding Forever” album.

In 2007, he launched the Common Ground Foundation (, dedicated to empowering youths in urban neighborhoods and providing life skills needed to achieve their dreams. The foundation’s BE Empowered program provides life, career and educational mentoring as a means for youth participants to achieve understanding, confidence and self-respect; its focus is on finding the power of one’s voice, hands-on creative expression, learning business skills and developing an overall mind/body well being.

The foundation’s Read For Change program addresses the national problem of illiteracy. In an effort to encourage and inspire youth to read, the Common Ground Foundation has launched The Corner, a national online book club. This interactive platform provides youths across the country with an opportunity to discuss current reading selections, and fosters the development of critical thinking skills.

Common also offers the younger generation a better understanding of self respect and love, using the cultural relevance of hip-hop, in the children’s books he has written. The first, “The MIRROR and ME” (Hip Hop School House, 2005), teaches lessons of life, the human spirit and human nature. His follow-up book, “I Like You, But I Love Me” (Hip Hop School House, 2006), was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Common made his big screen debut in 2006 as a musical performer in “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.” In 2007, he made his acting debut co-starring opposite Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys and Ryan Reynolds in “Smokin’ Aces.” He has also appeared opposite Denzel Washington in “American Gangster,” “Street Kings” with Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, “Wanted” with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, and “Terminator Salvation” with Christian Bale. He’ll next be seen in April with the release of “Date Night,” starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. He recently wrapped his first lead role in “Just Wright,” opposite Queen Latifah.

In addition to his music, film and literary pursuits, Common was recently announced as the face of the new Diesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave. He has also partnered with Microsoft on its Softwear clothing line and does additional work with Microsoft Zune, Lincoln Navigator and AMP Energy Drink. In 2007, he launched his Italian hat line, SOJI.

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