The rapper, actor and activist opens up like never before in his new memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, out Tuesday

By Janine Rubenstein
May 07, 2019 09:00 AM
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Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty

Common is opening up for the first time about a deeply painful experience—one that he’s still coming to terms with.

The Grammy and Oscar-winning rapper, actor and activist, 47, has just released his new memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, in which he reflects on his personal journey with love and the knowledge he’s gleaned from therapy.

In the book he shares that it wasn’t until two years ago, while workshopping a scene with actress and friend Laura Dern, that a haunting memory of being molested as a kid suddenly came back to him.

Laura Dern, Common
Credit: JB Lacroix/ Getty

The actors were preparing for their roles in The Tale. “One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind,” he writes. “I caught my breath and just kept looping the memories over and over, like rewinding an old VHS tape…I said ‘Laura, I think I was abused.'”

CAUTION: The below text contains a graphic description of an instance of childhood sexual assault

Common goes on to share what he now recalls happening to him when he was just 9 or 10 years old while growing up in Chicago. “I was excited for a road trip I was about to take with my family. My mother; my godmother, Barbara; her son and my godbrother Skeet; and his relative, who I’ll call Brandon…”

Arriving at his Aunt’s house in Cleveland, Common says he and Brandon were made to share a bed together one night of the trip.

“At some point I felt Brandon’s hand on me,” he writes. “I pushed him away. I don’t remember saying a whole lot besides ‘No, no, no.'”

Let Love Have The Last Word Common
Credit: Atria Books

But Common says his abuser would not stop: “He kept saying ‘It’s okay, It’s okay,’ as he pulled down my shorts and molested me. After he stopped he kept asking me to perform it on him. I kept repeating ‘No’ and pushing him away,” the rapper writes. “I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened.”

To cope, the “Glory” singer believes he “buried” the painful memories. “I just pushed the whole thing out of my head,” he writes. “Maybe it’s a matter of survival—Even now, two years after that flash resurgence of memories, as I’m writing, I’m still working through all of this in myself and with my therapist.”

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The star says that he has never spoken about the one-time incident with the accused (who he hasn’t seen in over 25 years) but he has forgiven him, for his and others’ sake. “I want to be a person who helps break cycles of violence,” he writes. “This is love in action and I intend to practice it.”

Let Love Have the Last Word by Common was released Tuesday and is available now.

If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.