By Ericka Blount Danois | Photography By Cliff Watts
Common, dressed in a classic streamlined Caruso black tuxedo, is looking over his shoulder at Selita Ebanks, sporting a La Perla black bra and panties, as she sensually rests her body against his back for the cameras. The Chitown rapper is at the top of his game yet again. His 10th album dropped in July and he just wrapped a challenging role as civil rights activist James Bevel for Selma, the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt due out by Christmas. With an already full plate, he will also continue his starring role on the AMC series, Hell on Wheels, as Elam Ferguson, an emancipated slave.
Ebanks reaches over toward the nightstand and feeds Common caviar off of her long crimson fingernails as they lounge seductively on an oval bed in the 57th floor penthouse suite of the W Hotel Times Square. Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo croon in the background of the racy scene. Throughout the day there are many changes for Common: one luxurious suit after another—all attire befitting a leading man or maybe a hip-hop sex symbol. It’s the sex symbol part that Common approaches reluctantly. “It’s not what I reach for, but I like women, so I’m not running away from it,” he smirks. “But I’m not running out saying, ‘Hey let me get my eyebrows arched’ or whatever sex symbols do.”
The current scene is definitely sexy, but potentially awkward. See, Ebanks and Common’s real-life ex-girlfriend, Serena Williams, are best friends. And according to him, there was a time he thought Serena was the one. However, he just laughs off today’s provocative posing with his ex’s supermodel bestie. It’s acting, just like any role.
Common is easygoing and down-to-earth—qualities that have sometimes earned him the unfavorable label of “soft.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.