Common Calls The Dreamer/The Believer A 'Great Piece Of Art'

'I wanted to make hip-hop that I felt right now and the way that I've known it in my years to sound,' rapper says.

With the Maya Angelou controversy over his song "The Dreamer" cleared up, Common can now drop his newest release, The Dreamer/The Believer, with a clear conscience. The rapper's latest effort hits the streets on Tuesday (December 20).

"That's very special to me, man. I'm excited, man. This is like one of the favorite, one of my favorite albums that I ever been a part of," he told MTV News on the red carpet at "VH1 Divas," where he was on hand to introduce the Amy Winehouse tribute. "And I feel like it has that music that we want to hear. So it's produced by No I.D. and it's some great music.

"I wanted to make hip-hop music. I wanted to make hip-hop that I felt right now and the way that I've known it in my years to sound," he continued. "So it just was about, like, let's make some real good hip-hop music and make it a great piece of art, so when people hear the album, they can have the complete package of everything."

In addition to releasing new music, Common is also knee-deep into the season of his AMC drama "Hell on Wheels," in which he plays former slave Elam Ferguson, who is struggling with his identity shortly after the Civil War. "I'm supercharged about that also," he said. "We've been doing really well. Everybody that has been supporting it, thank you very much. And those that haven't seen it, you got to check it out."

Much like in his music, the show is about storytelling and taking fans on an emotional journey. "It's a great story about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, but it's more about the relationships of the people who were there to build this dream, you know, from freed men, from black freed men, to the Irishmen to Confederates to Union soldiers to the whores of the town and how these lives mesh."

Balancing his acting and musical careers is sometimes a struggle, but it's a struggle that Common is willing to make. "Once I really got into the acting world, I definitely had to balance it," he explained. "I love acting — I love it for real and I love music too. I got to give them both attention. I can't neglect either one. It's a little easier working on the album, but they both mean a lot to me."