WATCH: We asked Common to freestyle about facts. Here's what happened
For Common, freestyling is a state of pure creativity. Letting rhyme after rhyme flow off the top of his head, he has no trouble fitting in tricky words that others suggest.
During an interview at the PBS NewsHour, Common said he just needed a word to get started.
"How about 'facts'? Can you riff off "facts"?" national correspondent Amna Nawaz asked.
The Chicago musician and actor, who's one honor away from becoming an EGOT winner, didn't hesitate, even fitting in a NewsHour mention:
"Sometimes she might even ask/ If I can come in here and rap on facts/ Imma tell you this, even sitting in a booth/ Anytime I talk about facts, I spit truth/ That's what it is, I spread truth to power/ I came to do this at the PBS NewsHour."
In his new memoir, "Let Love Have the Last Word," Common talks about his decades-long career, fatherhood and the sexual abuse he faced as a child.
"I've been rapping for more than 25 years now. I would rap for free. I would rap if I lived on the streets. I would rap if I was a preacher, a prisoner, or a politician," Common wrote.
When not figuring out songs in a studio, Common said he will "get in a car and put on a beat and say my raps out loud. I just start freestyling whatever lines I like."
Common has been on tour since July supporting his new studio album, "Let Love," which will be released on Aug. 30. His full interview with the NewsHour will air in the coming weeks.