Hip-hop star Common reveals his passion for rhyme, basketball, his mother and fame in his new memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense. The book follows the evolution of the artist, from the sensitive, girl-obsessed Chicago kid, to the influential, and at times, controversial musician he is today.

Read how Jay-Z went from the Marcy Projects to an Empire State of Mind in his memoir Decoded.

Here, we present 10 things you may not know about Common:

1. One of his greatest regrets is that his “early albums include lyrics that might be considered homophobic.” After a fan expressed how the words hurt, Common vowed to stop using the language in future albums.

2. Although Common grew up in the South Side of Chicago surrounded by gang activity, he never felt like he belonged on the streets. He admits to getting in fights, even pulling a gun, but, he says, “For all the dumb stuff I did, three things always brought me back: my dreams, my mother, and my faith in God.”

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3. He was a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls. His father, Lonnie, briefly played for the league and got him the job. Common made extra cash running “hustles,” taking free posters of Michael Jordan and selling them outside the United Center.

4. Common never writes his raps on paper. He used to think up rhymes while driving his friends around and waiting to pick them up. “I didn’t have anything to write on, so I’d repeat them…until they stuck. The practice became a habit.”  

5. While at Florida A&M University, Common devised an unconventional method for working on demos with his Chicago-based collaborator. His partner would “record his beats to the outgoing message on his answering machine,” and Common would call in and rap to the message.

6. The artist was originally called Common Sense to represent the everyday workingman and logic. In 1995, he was sued by an L.A. ska band for the rights to the name, therefore becoming Common.

7. The man acts. He had a few lines in American Gangster with Denzel Washington and co-starred in Wanted alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. Jolie came to hang out with Common in Chicago and described his stuff as “some real dark warrior music.”

8. Fellow Chicagoan Kanye West is one of his buds and dropped by to listen when Common recorded tracks. Common remembers West as “a little dude talking crazy shit…does he ever stop talking?” He now jokes that West’s skills have caught up to his mouth.

9. Common’s quite the romantic. He’d hit up Chicago museums to pick up girls, and has been known to date strong, talented women like Erykah Badu and Serena Williams.

10. Common was the first rapper to use Obama in his lyrics. They both went to the same church in Chicago and became friends before Obama became president.

Common's memoir One Day It'll All Make Sense is out this week from Atria Books.