Common and his daughter Omoye Lynn are on the road to happiness — but they had a journey getting there.
“She’s loving, funny and really aware,” the rapper, actor and activist tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, speaking of his 21-year-old only child. “And she’s emotional. Now she’s starting to open up more.”
Though the star, 47, and Omoye’s mom Kim Jones split when she was only 1, he says tried to make sure he was a presence in her life.
“I remember teaching her how to ride a bike,” he says. “I was on the move a lot so being able to do that was good. It was like a metaphor, when I let her go and she first started riding, it hit me that at some point I’ll really have to let her go. That was a good moment.”
But as he shares in his revealing new memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, recently he learned his daughter felt he hadn’t tried hard enough to be in her life more.
After one late night father-daughter conversation devolved into tears, Omoye, then 19, questioned Common on how much he cared about her. “It kind of shocked me because that’s the first time I had ever heard it,” he says. “I was like, ‘What do you mean?'”
When the two sat down together she opened up about feelings of abandonment that she’d been harboring since childhood. “She said, ‘It felt like you didn’t fight for me.'”
That feeling, he believes, is due in large part to complications surrounding his split with her mom. “It’s the typical things you hear about with two parents who are splitting up, especially young,” he explains. With Omoye, “that love is obviously there. But it’s like sometimes I wasn’t able to have as much access and without that we couldn’t build the strongest relationship.”
He adds, “some of it was me being in the pursuit of my career, too.” As he chased success on the charts and the big screen, “It was like, not only am I fulfilling a dream but I’m also using it to take care of her, the family.”
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Upon hearing each other out, they both decided to take positive steps forward.
“We had a therapy session together, and I loved it. Well, not everything that was said, but I knew it was something that would help her move forward,” he says. “A woman’s relationship with her father definitely affects how she is in relationships.”
These days, “It’s been good,” he says of life with Omoye, who in May graduated from Howard University and plans to pursue law. “We’re on that journey.”
For more on Common and his journey to happiness, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands noq.