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Rapper Common to stray from music in Memorial Hall speech



The Carolina Union Activities Board is bringing Common to campus to wrap up the semester.

But rapping won’t be the focus of the socially conscious hip-hop artist’s appearance today.

Instead, he will give a lecture about youth and activism in a speech entitled “Greatness!”

The contract between CUAB and Common’s management totals $24,500, according to Christopher Willett, the attorney who drafted the agreement.

Student tickets for the event are $10, and as of Tuesday evening, Memorial Hall’s box office confirmed that only 320 tickets had been sold.

A representative from the box office said the balcony will be blocked off, leaving 596 seats to be filled.

Lauren Sacks, assistant director of student learning and activities, said CUAB’s forum committee is responsible for bringing speakers to campus who will encourage a dialogue among students. The committee has a budget of $50,000 to $60,000 for this year.

Mark Steffen, events manager at Memorial Hall, said the average cost for student organizations to book the venue is between $2,000 and $3,500.

The combination of venue price and Common’s contract fee totals about half of the forum committee’s annual budget.

Sacks said the final price tag for the event is five or six thousand dollars less than it was originally going to cost CUAB.

“A month ago the forum committee got an email informing them that Common’s contract fee was going to be lowered for the month of December,” she said.

“That provided an extra impetus to make it happen.”

Grace Peter, chairwoman of CUAB’s forum committee, said both CUAB and the UNC planning committee for the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week were looking into getting Common — and Peter said they were lucky to book him.

“We did not search for a (last day of classes) performer,” Peter said in an email.

“It just so happened that CUAB had Memorial Hall reserved for Dec. 5 and Common was also available.”

Sacks said students can expect Common to do a freestyle rap prior to the lecture and then talk for about 45 minutes.

Common’s lecture will be followed by a 20- to 30-minute question and answer session.

While Common’s visit will consist mostly of a lecture, UNC senior Jameer Logan said he is still excited to see the rapper.

He said he’s fascinated by Common’s poetry and his attentiveness to social issues.

“I love Common as a rap artist and as a speaker,” Logan said.

“He’s very conscious and aware of what’s going on in the world.”

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