Common is eager to discuss the future of his burgeoning acting career. "I want you to be able to say, 'Common's one of the great actors of our time,'" he says earnestly. But the two-time Grammy winner (and 11-time nominee) is still best known for his socially conscious rhymes on albums such as Be and last year's Finding Forever.

And, actually, he says there's a balance to be had between those two careers. "When you're an artist, you want to grow as you create," Common explains. "I think acting's just an expansion of my artistry. When you love something, you love it. I found that I love this. I'm not surprised I did, but I am surprised by how it made me feel. I was learning something about myself acting and about people. You relate to people a whole different way because you've walked in their shoes a bit."



Common: With N.E.R.D. Friday, October 10. The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Show begins at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $36.50 to $73,,

Consequently his work in the recording studio has been evolving at a rapid clip. "I deal with characters more," he says. "I always dealt with the story, but now I tell the story of the person and how they got to be this way. "

Common's newest album, Invincible Summer (produced by his tour mates, the Neptunes of N.E.R.D.), doesn't quite reflect these changes — it's more club-oriented than some of his usual commentary — but given how busy he has been between the acting roles and recording the new release, maybe we should cut the consistently strong rapper some slack. Consider Invincible Summer the calm before a much-needed storm.


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