Common – The Making of ‘The Light’

00:24 – Sonically, I give all the respect, honor and credit to J Dills because he produced the music. It was a sample from a beautiful Bobby Caldwell song called “Open Your Eyes.” Dilla played me the beat he made for it, and I was like ‘Yo, this is incredible.’

00:45 – My songwriting is usually rooted in the truth, but I also use my imagination and creativity, because I haven’t experienced everything in life. “The Light” was definitely inspired by Erykah Badu. It’s talking about the different dimensions of love and what partnership is.

01:17 – One of the most challenging things about shooting the video for me was just making sure I let go. I’m a Southside Chicago dude, so some of the stuff was like ‘Okay, I am in the space of artsiness?’ And some of it was like ‘Okay, is this a little too poetic?’ I had to make sure I was being true to myself. They told me ‘We need you to wear no socks,’ and I thought it was a little weird. I was in my artsy space and everything, but no socks? Don’t know if I was ready for the no socks thing, but I did it.

01:48 – “The Light” was one of the greatest videos I have ever been a part of. I think director Nzingha Stewart’s vision was to make something simple, to express the couple’s intimacy and partnership. Sometimes you don’t have to do a lot for it to be dope.

02:18 – The line I’m most proud of is “It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine.” I’m proud of that because so many people have told me they’ve used this song in their weddings. I didn’t think of that line as being dope or whatever, I just thought it was a fun line to say. But I guess it could be kinda flirty and romantic and cool, so now that’s probably my favorite line.

02:48 – I wouldn’t change the video we made, but if I did a new version, I think it would have a new co-star. All due respect Erykah is a queen, but in an update I would make it a short film, and have another love story for the song

03:18 – I hadn’t finished the song yet, and I was laying the vocals, and that’s why I ended up saying “Digga-da, digga-da, digga-da, digga-digga-da-da, Yo’ I tell you the rest when I see you.” Later I came up with a line for that part, but I tried to re-record it at least 20 times and it was never better than that take.

03:48 – I hope that “The Light” helped inspire more love and continues to encourage hip-hop in a way that we can always be authentic to who we are. I think that’s a beautiful thing about hip-hop. This was just one of those songs that allowed us as males to feel like we could express love in a pure way – say what we’re feeling and not be afraid. It took me a long time to understand that.