BROOKLYN, New York — After staring at the playback monitor's screen on the set of the video for "Go," Common's second single from his forthcoming Be, director Kanye West slunk off to a couch behind the set and fell asleep. And though directing this clip was difficult, especially since half the video's graphics would be placed in after the shoot, West woke up after his power nap ready to face the challenge. He stepped into the two-room set and personally arranged and rearranged the vases, plants and lamps — clearly looking to make sure his third directorial experience, following Common's "The Corners" and John Legend's "Ordinary People," was perfect.
Inspired by a group trip to see the film "Ray," Common, Kanye and hip-hop sidekick John Mayer created the airy, retro "Go" together.
"The movie was so good, to me, as a musician and as an artist, I just felt inspired," Common explained. "We left there and went straight to the studio. Kanye started cooking up this beat, and started doing this chant, like, 'go, go, go.' "
And with guitar-slinging singer/songwriter John Mayer on the track as well, the three men made their baby.
"While we were sitting there trying to figure out what to write, John Mayer said, 'You could write about your fantasy,' " said Comm Sense, dressed in twisted jeans, an argyle-speckled green polo shirt and blue newsboy cap. "And I was like, 'Am I going to let John Mayer come up with the concept for this joint? This is hip-hop.' But John Mayer is a very talented brother, and you don't know where your blessings are going to come from. He was singing and we made him a sample on it, going 'go.' So it all came together and now we have the song 'Go,' which is about going to my fantasy."
Taking Mayer's advice, "Go" showcases Common's two favorite fantasies, proving that righteous brothers can get down too.
"My fantasy was about being with a girl I'd been with before and I would have good sex with. Then another fantasy was another woman I was digging that was open and wanted to be with another girl and me too. So that's a good fantasy," the Chi rapper said with a smile.
Common hopes displaying his racier side will break his singularly conscious persona.
"People only think Common is just about this conscious thing," he said. "Talking about my fantasies is a good way to express myself because I am a balanced person. I like sex, I just try to be in control with it. Conscious cats like sex too."
The video set was divided into two rooms. One housed a modern, natural wood-colored living room/lounge area, complete with a plush rug and brown leather couches. The other room held a fluffy bed and candles. The video's editors were planning to stretch the heads of Common and the models on the screen as the ladies act out Comm's fantasies. One caramel-complexioned beauty danced alone on the set's furry rug, responding to the director's instructions to touch her hair.
"We have some real beautiful ideas of these warm graphics that we're going to put on the green screen," Common said. "They're going to be soulful, accentuating all the images in the video. You'll see somebody's head but it'll be pulled out in a way that's beautiful."
Describing Be, the continuously evolving MC said this project is about him just being himself (see "Common Lets It Be On Upcoming Down-Home Album"). The 11-cut album was produced primarily by West — who no longer keeps all the good beats for himself — and J Dilla.
"It's coming out on GOOD Music, which is 'Getting Out Our Dreams,' Kanye's label. It's me, GLC, John Legend, Consequence," Common said. "And I think the album is what people want as far as raw, soulful hip-hop. There aren't really any features. I do have a GOOD Music song featuring Kanye, myself and John Legend called 'They Say.' But I want people to know who Comm Sense is at this point."
Be drops on May 24.
For a feature on Kanye and John Mayer, check out "In The Lab With Kanye."