Michael Muller captures Common’s “dark side” for Ebony

Common. Photos by Michael Muller for Ebony.

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Common, whose name is inevitably accompanied by the label “conscious rapper” whenever you read or hear about him in the press, has written an autobiography that looks back at the rocky road he had to navigate in order to reach higher ground. Stuff like being kidnapped by his dad when he was a kid. To mark the publication of One Day It’ll All Make Sense, writer Amy Elisa Keith interviewed him for the November issue of Ebony, in a her story that explores what she calls Common’s “dark side.” Accordingly, the photos—shot by Michael Muller—present Common as we rarely see him: looking a bit dangerous.

Khadijat Oseni—the rep here at Stockland Martel who coordinated the shoot on the agency side—asked Ebony creative director Darhil Crooks about how he and Michael conceptualized the images. Here’s what Darhil said:

“People have a perception of Common as a ‘conscious’ rapper—the guy who makes love songs—but with the release of his autobiography, Common exposed the world to the real life behind the music. It turns out that he is a complicated guy with a complicated past. A dark side that you might not know about by simply listening to his music or watching him act. The article gives us a little insight into that side and makes Common all that more interesting.

When I was thinking about what to do with the shoot, I always imagined something gritty. If we were going to shoot in L.A., I wanted the grimy side of things. Something cinematic, a ’70s-era crime drama. We came up with a loose narrative around Common and our model Aeriele as kind of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. In the end, it became more about these two hooking up at a cheap hotel, but the way it was shot, you get a sense of something sinister beneath the surface. I wanted to give Common a chance to get into character a bit and have some fun.

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Photos by Michael Muller for Ebony.

Photos by Michael Muller for Ebony.

Photos by Michael Muller for Ebony.

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Working with Mike was amazing. He understood exactly what I was going for. He and his crew brought an incredible amount of energy and ideas to our small window of shooting time…and he hooked up that awesome car. I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had on a shoot in a long time. Kind of hard to go wrong with a Camaro and a gorgeous model on a sunny day in L.A.”

Thank you, Darhil!

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