"I owe it, Black men owe it and the world owes it to Black women to uplift, respect and honor them."
The love between Black men and Black women is truly like no other and talented Hip Hop veteran Common is looking to bring that feeling to the forefront of the music conversation again with a new mini documentary titled, “Love Star.” Check out the exclusive premiere of the short film below and keep reading to hear what Common told us about the magical process behind putting together this introspective celebration of Black love.
Named after his most recent single and inspired by his unforgettable performance at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, Common says his goal for the Love Star project was a simple one: to honor Black women from the perspective of a Black man. “When I wrote the song, I was thinking about when you really love a person,” the Chicago lyricist tells ESSENCE. “I thought about when I love a woman and I can enjoy her, but at the same time she can enjoy me and we can have fun and laugh. But then there’s also a real bond that’s there that has spirituality, growth, support and integrity connected in it. We’re willing to make mistakes, but we’re there for each other; that’s true love.”
Common went on to break down exactly what a “Love star” is, before elaborating on how this year’s ESSENCE Festival influenced the project.
“So, the theme, Love Star, came up just because I thought it was a cool nickname to call somebody that you’re close to. You know how people say, ‘oh, that’s my bae’ or my ‘boo’ or ‘my girl,’ like we used to say. Love Star is like a beautiful way of describing somebody important in your life that you care about. Then, when I knew I was a part of the Essence Festival, I was like, what better way that to show that love than expressing that to a Black woman. I know the Essence Fest as a whole is all about honoring Black women but, I also wanted to honor Black women myself, as a Black man. I wanted to show that we revere and hold you high, Black woman. We love you and care for you and honor you.”
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Common also teamed up with talented filmmaker Nefertite Nguvu to direct the project. Much like the man behind the music, Nefertite says she was glad to seize an opportunity to showcase positive images of Black women. “I was, first of all, just honored to be able to work on the project as a Black woman myself,” she said. “Any time I have the opportunity to do work that gives us a sense of visibility and dignity and complexity, I am excited to do it. I think there’s need for it, especially with all of the images that exist that depict Black women in the opposite light. This was an opportunity to point a camera and have women talk to us about something simple and human and true, which is love. So, it was just a joy for me to work on the project.”
The pair also agreed that it was imperative for the documentary to showcase everyday women.
“We knew we wanted to talk to real women,” she continued. “We knew we wanted to avoid the sort of “model-y” type or the sort of women that fit into the “cookie cutter” images you usually see. We wanted people to be able to see themselves and we wanted women of many different ages to be able to identify with it. So, the criteria was just wanting to point the lens at women who look like the majority of Black women versus the very specific things we are usually taught to see as beautiful.” Speaking briefly on the lack of everyday women seen in music videos and films, Common says he was proud to show his love for, and highlight the beauty of, the everyday woman “There’s something that I love about the women that are a part of [the documentary]”, Common said. “For me, I’ve always related to the everyday woman. I’m drawn to that, as a man.”
A name that has remained high on the list of influential artists who have kept socially conscious, culturally thought-proving lyrics in their music, Common says he also hopes to combat the idea that Black men don’t appreciate Black women with the documentary. “I know a lot of Black men that really love their Black women,” he said. “They treat them with respect and they work jobs and they take care of their families. So, I think I wanted to be a voice for those men and at the same time, reach the guys that may be overlooking it or not recognizing it. I wanted to show them like, “hey, look at what we got, it’s amazing.” We often talk about, Black men don’t respect Black women but, there’s a lot of Black men that do and I guess I chose to focus on that part. Even though it’s not just me, I feel like because I have a microphone, I can be a voice for those guys.”
Above all else, Common is embracing the concept of using his music to lead by example and encourage Black men of all ages to take pride in holding their Black women in high regard. “Music taught me about so many things. I grew up in a very segregated area so, Hip Hop was bringing me so many different things and new aspects. I think it’s important that through this art, we use it to activate things. I didn’t have a man sit down and say, “this is how you conduct yourself with a woman” or “this is what sex is about.” I learned from my friends that I was around and I learned through experience. So, I think some of the best ways I’ve been taught have been by example. When I’m around people that are about something and they just show it through who they are, then they don’t even have to say it. You just are because…..you are.”