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Lonnie Lynn, spoken-word poet and father of rapper Common, has died. The 71-year-old passed on Friday, which Common relayed in an interview on Monday in Los Angeles. Fans of the rapper would recognize Lynn’s voice, as he often closed his son’s albums with a soulful poem. The artist credited his father as “Pops” on his albums, and has a track dedicated to him titled “Pops Belief.” “He was truly a natural poet and master of words. His personality and soul shined through his work,” Common, (whose name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.) said of his father.
Lynn was a basketball player in high school and later played professionally for one year. He expressed struggles with fathering, family life, and drug addiction in his poetry on Common’s albums. Sometimes the work is regretful, but the tone remained almost always pensive and even hopeful. “The way he said things made me look at life and the world in a new way, in a different way,” said his son. “They always sparked a thought in my head. His words would always make me strive to achieve higher, to write better, to be more truthful with my words.” Lynn’s last contribution to his son’s work was on his 2011 release, The Dreamer, The Believer. The poem in “Pops Belief” was a piece of inspiration: “For those of us who come from less than enviable circumstances, dreams – good dreams, sweet dreams – dreams come true. Truthful dreams, truthful dreams become life. Live the life you believe… For the sake of the unwritten laws of humanity, I believe in God. I believe in my ancestors, I believe in my offsprings … I believe in the truth, truth. See you next lifetime.”
Common is both a musician and an actor, appearing in “Terminator: Salvation” and as a regular on “Hell on Wheels,” an AMC series. In September of 2011, he published his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense. The book relays the details of his relationship with his mother (who sometimes narrates), and his early reconciliation with his father. The rapper is also the founder of Common Ground Foundation, a nonprofit that develops programs for leadership and empowerment training for underprivileged children.