Common Shines Spotlight On Up & Coming Rappers W/ New Music Contest

With the help of Chicago emcee Common, luxury vehicle line, Lincoln, is stepping up its urban marketing game with a "Lincoln Spotlight" music contest in search of talented rappers. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 and an opening slot for Common at a performance in 2008.

Lincoln inked a one-year marketing deal with Common last fall in an effort to reach a younger, hipper audience.

To be seriously considered for the contest, aspiring lyricists must create a song that embraces at least one of Lincoln's four "brand truths": advancing the American dream, being proud of where you came from, doing more and daring more, and exploring what it means to "reach higher."

Contestants will have the chance to work it out through an original song and video based on one of several pre-made tracks available through

Contestants will be judged on originality, verbal technique and visual sophistication; songs must be free of profanity and hate language.

Online visitors will be able to vote for their favorite entries, with the grand prize winner determined by Common and a panel of music insiders.

"Music continues to play a rewarding and unique role in our culture," said Tom Grill, Lincoln Brand Manager. "The Lincoln Spotlight provides an outstanding platform to celebrate music and at the same time to allow us to shine a spotlight on many talented, yet undiscovered individuals, and to build a community of fans and supporters much like the phenomenon of other viewer-voted reality talent contests."

The deadline for entries is March 17 at 5 p.m. From there the pack will be whittled down to 25, then progressively down to the Top 5, until the grand prize winner is announced on Tuesday, May 6 at noon.