I recently had the opportunity to hear Common speak on campus. It was a fairly intimate venue of what seemed to be about 1,000 or so attendees, located in a place in which I’ve attended class lectures before — Bailey Hall. In just a few words, it was a great, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunity to be immersed in an environment of positivity and to gain some insight about what a respected rapper, philanthropist, and artist thinks about defining and pursuing success.
He opened the night by noting his roots in hip hop and performing a freestyle relevant to Cornell, mentioning local spots like College Ave, Dunbar’s, and Pixel! That was a pleasant surprise that got the crowd riled and excited. The core of his talk revolved around his three mantras: 1) Find your path 2) Believe in your path and 3) Live your path. He spoke wisely and frankly about his personal journey, and one of the quotes that most resonated with me, or rather, inspired me, was one that he quoted from Khalil Gibran “Work is love made visible.”
As a side note, I also found some joy in hearing that one of his favorite rappers is Andre 3000. Or should I say that I was delighted to hear that I have something in common with Common?
He ended the night with a spontaneous Q & A from students with varying hip hop backgrounds, curiosities, and intentions. With each answer he further grounded himself and made himself as accessible and inspiring as ever.
One of the best things about Cornell is being able to meet and learn from such a diverse population of people, and that extends to the guest speakers that visit our school. Committees like the Multicultural Concert Funding Advisory Board, Cornell Concert Commission, and Cornell University Program Board, and others work very hard to make this possible, so that students can have as engaging and unique learning opportunities as this one. Upcoming, I hope to be able to hear some stand up comedy from Retta (best known for her role as Donna Meagle in the show Parks and Recreation) on April 29th!
Photo Credit to A. Mai, ’15.