Common on new album's message of love and humanity

Rapper Common's new album

Common’s latest music may be his most political work yet.

Since his debut album in 1992, Common has received much acclaim, both as a singer and actor. He’s won three Grammy Awards, including one for the song “Glory,” which was featured in the 2014 movie, “Selma” – and also won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best original song.

But his latest music may be his most political work yet.

The rapper released his 11th studio album last month, called “Black America Again.” Common said it offers a larger message about the importance and love for all of humanity.

“I don’t make art for just one color, for one nationality,” Common told “CBS This Morning” Friday. “I make it for all people really. And my message is about spirituality. More than any person that’s running the government, we’ve got to be in tune with ourselves. And that message is in that music about loving each other.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's impact on race and the White House

Common said he drew inspiration from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, “Between the World and Me,” and the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”

“Both of those…. were really big influences because it really showed me like you can be out there doing something really conscious and something aware, something about bringing people together and then be at a higher level,” Common said.

Common said he’d seen “Hamilton” for the fourth time Friday.

“When I see good art like that, it reminds me of what my purpose is in art. It has to bring people together,” Common said.

Common’s latest album explores social and political issues, from police brutality to racism and mass incarceration. Common believes the messages behind his songs come at a critical time.

“And I feel like right now, at a time when we’ve got so much in the world, we really gotta relate to each other as human beings. So it was just really about showing that humanity,” he said.

One of the songs in the album, called “Black America Again,” features Stevie Wonder. Common said he grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, including his song called “Happy Birthday” – a song that celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and helped make his birthday a national holiday.  

“For me to have him on... it was just like – ‘I can’t believe this.’ Just having him sit in there in the studio singing and deciding what we were about to write about,” Common recalled.

Common’s newest album also features a song called “Letter to the Free,” which is featured in Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” on Netflix. He said he pitched her the idea because of his passion for mass incarceration reform.

In addition to his music, Common also explained how his diet helps him as a rapper.

“I eat healthy because it helps me to be clearer,” he said. “I’ve noticed a difference in like the clarity in my voice, in my thoughts, when I eat healthier.”

Co-host Gayle King also asked Common -- a friend of Kanye West -- about his thoughts on West’s meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower. 

“That’s my brother, and for me, like as friends, I don’t have to agree with everything that Kanye does. I still love him,” Common said. “If his intention was really what he said it was -- which is... helping the issues in Chicago -- then you know, I gotta say, ‘Hey, if that’s his intention, I respect that.’ I don’t think necessarily, you know, that’s not anything I’d particularly do, and I’d be able to disagree with Kanye... No matter what, I think.. he’s out to help people.”