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Common

Performing at Ilosaarirock, Finland in 2008.
Background information
Birth name Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
Also known as Common Sense
Born March 13, 1972 (1972-03-13) (age 38)[1]
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, actor, author
Years active 1992–present
Labels Relativity, MCA, G.O.O.D. Music, Geffen
Website thinkcommon.com

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage name Common (previously Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor.

Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 90s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. His first major label album, Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and moderate commercial success. Its popularity was matched by 2005's Be, which was nominated in the 2006 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album. Common was awarded his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West) (from Finding Forever), his first awarded in 2003 for Best R&B Song for "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" with Erykah Badu.[2][3] His best-of album Thisisme Then was released on November 27, 2007. Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, and Terminator Salvation.

Contents

Early life

Lynn was born on Chicago's South Side. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahila Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. They divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. This left him to be raised by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and even landed Lonnie Jr. a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teen years. While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Lynn met the love of his life, Martha Kifle, and also formed C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts which included N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane.[4]

Common attended Florida A&M University for two years under a scholarship and majored in business administration.[5] After being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine, Lynn debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ" followed by the album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under stage name Common Sense.[6]

Career

With the 1994 release of Resurrection, Common achieved a much larger degree of critical acclaim, which extended beyond Chicago natives. The album sold relatively well and received a strong positive reaction among alternative and underground hip-hop fans at the time. Resurrection was Common's last album produced almost entirely by his long-time production partner, No I.D., who was also the then-mentor of a young Kanye West.

Feud with Westside Connection

The song "I Used to Love H.E.R." from Resurrection ignited a feud with West Coast rap group Westside Connection. The lyrics of the song criticized the path hip-hop music was taking and was interpreted by some as directing blame towards the popularity of West Coast Gangsta rap. Westside Connection first responded with the 1995 song Westside Slaughterhouse, with the lyrics "Used to love H.E.R. mad cause I fucked her". Westside Connection recorded tracks venting their issues with rival East Coast rappers (see East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry). Westside Slaughterhouse also mentioned Common by name, prompting the rapper to respond with the scathing Pete Rock-produced attack song "The Bitch in Yoo". Common and Westside Connection continued to insult each other back and forth before finally meeting with Louis Farrakhan and setting aside their dispute. Following the popularity of Resurrection, Common Sense was sued by an Orange County-based reggae band with the same name, and was forced to shorten his moniker to simply Common.[6]

One Day It'll All Make Sense

Initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, Common finally released his third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, in September 1997. The album took a total of two years to complete and included collaborations with artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Q-Tip, Canibus, Black Thought, Chantay Savage, and Questlove - a future fellow member of the Soulquarians outfit. The album, which made a point of eschewing any gangsterism (in response to questions about his musical integrity), was critically acclaimed and led to a major label contract with MCA Records. In addition to releasing One Day, Common's first child, daughter Omoye Assata Lynn, was born shortly after the release of the album.

As documented by Hip hop journalist, Raquel Cepeda, in the liner notes for the album, this event had a profound spiritual and mental effect on Common and enabled him to grow musically while becoming more responsible as an artist. She writes:

Rashid found out that he was going to become a daddy in about 8 months. Stunned and confused, Rashid had life altering decisions to make with his girlfriend, Kim Jones. The situation led to the composition of his favourite cut on One Day... that offers a male slant on abortion. "Retrospect for Life", produced by James Poyser&No I.D. featuring Lauryn Hill (who was due on the same day as Rashid's girlfriend), is the song that is the driving force behind the project. Rashid listens to "Retrospect for Life" today at the mastering session geeked, as if it were for the first time. He tells me as we listen to L-Boogie wail the chorus, "when I listen to the song now, I think about how precious her (Omoye's) life is".

Common addresses family ethics several times on One Day..., and the album sleeve is decorated with old family photos, illustrating the rapper's childhood, as well a quote from 1 Corinthians 13:11, which summarizes the path to manhood:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Soulquarians era

Following One Day..., Common signed a major label record deal with MCA Records and relocated from Chicago to New York City in 1999. He began recording almost exclusively with a loose collective of musicians and artists (dubbed the "Soulquarians" by central figure Questlove) throughout 1999, and made a few sporadic guest appearances on The Roots' Things Fall Apart, and the Rawkus Records compilation, Soundbombing 2.

In 2000, his fourth album, Like Water for Chocolate, was released to mass critical acclaim. Executive produced by Questlove and featuring significant contributions by J Dilla, (who helmed all but one track - the DJ Premier-produced track "The 6th Sense"), Like Water for Chocolate (album) transpired to be a considerable commercial breakthrough for Common, earning the rapper his first gold record, and greatly expanding his fanbase among critics and listeners alike.

This album saw Common exploring themes (musically and lyrically), which were uncommon for a Hip hop record, as he does on the song "Time Travelin' (A Tribute To Fela)"; a homage to Nigerian music legend, and political activist Fela Kuti. The most popular single from the album "The Light" was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Electric Circus
The rapper's next album, Electric Circus was released in December 2002. It featured more experimental work with the Soulquarians, as well as contributions from The Neptunes, Zap Mama, and Prince. The album was something of a departure from Common's previous releases (and indeed from Hip hop music), and featured Common rapping over electric rock music, and electronica-influenced tracks. It received polarizing reviews, with many critics praising it as a musical tour de force and a visionary expansion of the Hip hop template, while others criticized it for veering too far from accessibility and viewing Common's role as secondary to the musicianship of the Soulquarians (it should be noted that Common has himself stated that it was his intention at the time to make an atypical hip hop record).

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the album did not sell as well as Like Water for Chocolate (album), with many longtime fans being turned off by its eclectic sound, and the album suffering from a lack of promotion due to MCA's absorption by Geffen Records. In 2003, Common won his first Grammy for his appearance on Erykah Badu's "Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)", a song he performed with Badu for the soundtrack to the movie Brown Sugar.

G.O.O.D. Music Era

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

In early 2004, Common made an appearance on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West's multi-platinum debut album, The College Dropout (on the song "Get Em High"), and announced his signing to West's then-newfound label GOOD Music. West had been a longtime fan of Common and the two even participated in a friendly on-air MC battle, where West took jabs at his lyrical idol for "going soft" and wearing crochet pants (as he does for his appearance in the video for the Mary J. Blige song "Dance for Me"). The pair worked together on Common's next album, Be, almost entirely produced by Kanye West, with some help from Common's longtime collaborator the late James Yancey (J Dilla) - also a favorite of West's. The album was released in May 2005, and performed very well, boosted by Kanye's involvement and the singles "The Corner", and "Go". Be earned Common the second gold record of his career, with sales topping out at around 800,000 copies. The Source magazine gave it a near perfect 4.5 mic rating, XXL magazine gave it their highest rating of "XXL", and AllHipHop gave the album 5 stars. The album was also nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2006.

Following the release of Be in 2005, several mixed-race artists from the UK hip-hop scene took exception to Common's comments about interracial relationships on the song "Real People", and in an interview. The situation started out with an article from UK's Touch magazine, in which he stated "When you see dreadlocked dudes with white girls that’s like they going against what the dreadlock’s purpose was."[7] Yungun, Doc Brown and Rising Son recorded a track over an instrumental version of "The Corner" named "Dear Common (The Corner Dub)." Common states that he has heard of the track but never actually taken the time to listen to it, and has not retaliated in song.[8]

Finding Forever and Universal Mind Control

Performing at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2007.

Common's seventh LP titled Finding Forever was released on 31 July 2007. For this album, he continued his work with Kanye West, as well as other producers such as will.i.am, Devo Springsteen, Derrick Hodge, and Karriem Riggins, as well as the only J. Dilla-produced track, "So Far To Go". The album features guest spots from artists such as Dwele, Bilal, D'Angelo, and UK pop starlet Lily Allen. The first single from the album was "The People" b/w "The Game". West has already predicted that Finding Forever will win the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album [9]. On July 31, 2007, Common performed a free concert in Santa Monica, California on the 3rd Street Promenade to promote the release of Finding Forever. Common explained to the audience that the title "Finding Forever" represented his quest to find an eternal place in hip-hop and also his wishes to be an artist for the rest of his life. The album debuted at #1 on the national Billboard 200 charts.

In a recent interview (circa August 30, 2007) with XXL, rapper Q-Tip of the group A Tribe Called Quest stated that he and Common were forming a group called The Standard. While the two were meant to hit the studio to record a Q-Tip-produced album, possibly with contributions from Kanye West, Common put out Universal Mind Control instead and has already planned a next album, The Believer, for 2010.[10]

The 8th album from Chicago hip-hop artist Common was originally scheduled to be released on June 24, 2008 under the name Invincible Summer, but he announced at a Temple University concert that he would change it to Universal Mind Control.[11] The release date was pushed back to September 30, 2008 due to Common filming Wanted. The release date was set for November 11, 2008, but again it was pushed back to December 9, 2008.

The album's first single, titled "Universal Mind Control", was officially released on July 1, 2008 via the US iTunes Store as part of the Announcement EP (sold as "Universal Mind Control-EP" in the UK). The song features Pharrell, who also produced the track. The Announcement EP included an additional track track titled "Announcement" featuring its producer, Pharrell. The video for "Universal Mind Control" was filmed in September by director Hype Williams.

Producer No I.D. has stated that he, Adam Boulesbaa, and Kanye West will be producing Common's next album The Believer, due in 2010.[12]. Common made an appearance on The Jonas Brothers' most recent album, Lines, Vines and Trying Times as a guest rapper for the group's new song, "Don't Charge Me for the Crime."[13]

Personal life

Common has a daughter, Omoye Assata Lynn (born 1997).[14] Since childhood, he was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Following the controversy over one of Wright's sermons, Common criticized the American news media's coverage of the incident as having "an agenda."[15] Common played the role of Alicia Keys's boyfriend in the music video "Like You'll Never See Me Again." He is currently dating professional tennis player Serena Williams.[16]

With both artists hailing from the Great Lakes region of the United States (Chicago and Detroit, respectively), Common and J Dilla established their chemistry early on. Both became members of the Soulquarians collective, and collaborated on numerous projects together, even placing one song, "Thelonius", on both the Slum Village album Fantastic, Vol. 2, and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. As Dilla's health began to decline from the effects of Lupus Nephritis, he relocated to Los Angeles for treatment, and asked Common to make the move with him as a roommate (Dilla would later lose his battle with the rare disease).[17]

Advertising

In 2006, Common was a model for photos of The Gap's fall season collection, appearing on posters in stores. Later that year, he performed in The Gap's "Holiday In Your Hood" themed Peace Love Gap. In February 2007, Common signed a deal with New Era to promote their new line of Layers fitted caps. Common also stars in a television commercial for the 2008 Lincoln Navigator. He appears in NBA 2k6 in Streetball mode. In the fall of 2008, Common appeared in an ad for Microsoft's Zune, comparing his new song, "Universal Mind Control," to ,"Planet Rock," a song from hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.

Business

Common at 2009 Obama Home States Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009

As of the 29th of September 2008 Common was instrumental in bridging the trans-Atlantic gap by signing UK's Mr Wong and J2K to Kanye West's Getting Out Our Dreams recording outfit. Common met the pair during his tour in the UK earlier on in the year. It is speculated that the deal is not only to bring the UK and US hip hop genres together but that to rival Syco Music's cross-Atlantic success with Leona Lewis. He also has a deal with Zune mp3 players. In 2008 Common made an estimated 12 million dollars, making him equal in earnings to Eminem and Akon, tied for the 13th highest grossing Hip-Hop artist.[18] In December 2008, Common will launch a new clothing line in partnership with Microsoft titled "Softwear", based on 1980s computing.

Activism

Common used to maintain a vegan diet[19] and is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. He recently appeared in a print advertisement for PETA titled "Think Before You Eat".[20] Common is also part of the "Knowing Is Beautiful" movement, which supports HIV/AIDS awareness.[21] He is featured in the video for "Yes We Can," a song in support of the candidacy of Barack Obama, which made its debut on the internet on February 2, 2008. Common has pledged to stop using anti-gay lyrics in his music.[22][23]

Acting career

In 2003, Common appeared on the popular American UPN sitcom Girlfriends. In the episode "Take This Poem and Call Me In The Morning", he appeared as Omar, a slam poet who competes with fellow poet Sivad (played by Saul Williams) for the affection of Lynn Searcy (played by Persia White). He also had a cameo appearance on an episode of UPN's One on One, where he played a drama class instructor named Darius. He also made an appearance on the NBC show "Scrubs". In 2007, Common appeared with Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys in the crime film Smokin' Aces. He made his big screen debut as villainous Mob enforcer Sir Ivy. He appeared alongside Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, The RZA and T.I. in the 2007 crime thriller American Gangster. On 20 January 2007, one week before the opening of Smokin Aces, he appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch as himself. The show's host was Piven, his Aces co-star. In 2008, he starred in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie; and was cast as the Green Lantern/John Stewart in the live adaptaton of The Justice League. Common also appeared in the movie Street Kings alongside Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, The Game, and Forest Whitaker.[24] He also appeared in the 2009 film Terminator Salvation as John Connor's lieutenant Barnes.[25]

Discography

Year Album Label Notes
1992 Can I Borrow a Dollar? Relativity Records
1994 Resurrection
1997 One Day It'll All Make Sense
2000 Like Water for Chocolate MCA Records
Universal Records
2002 Electric Circus
2005 Be G.O.O.D.
Geffen
Imani Entertainment
2007 Finding Forever
2008 Universal Mind Control
2010 The Believer

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
2002 Brown Sugar Himself
2006 Dave Chapelle's Block Party Himself
2007 Smokin' Aces Sir Ivy
American Gangster Turner Lucas
2008 Street Kings Coates
Wanted The Gunsmith
2009 Wanted: Weapons of Fate Brummel[26] video game voice
Terminator Salvation Barnes video game voice
2010 Date Night TBA
Just Wright TBA

Awards and nominations

Awards Year Type Song or album Notes
BET Awards 2003 Video of the Year "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
Viewer's Choice "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Best Collaboration "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2006 Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
BET Hip Hop Awards 2006 Element Award - Lyricist of the Year Won
Hip-Hop Video of the Year "Testify" Nominated
2007 Lyricist of the Year Won
CD of the Year Finding Forever Won
Best Hip Hop Video "The People" Nominated
Best Live Performance Nominated
MVP Of The Year Nominated
Black Reel Awards 2003 Best Film Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
Grammy Awards 2001 Best Rap Solo Performance "The Light" Nominated
2003 Best Song Written for a Motion Picture/Television Movie "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Best R&B Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
Best Urban/Alternative Performance "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2006 Best Rap/Sung Collaboration "They Say" Nominated
Best Rap Album Be Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance Testify Nominated
Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group "The Corner" Nominated
2008 Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group "Southside" Won
Best Rap Album Finding Forever Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance "The People" Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Duo or Group "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Outstanding Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Outstanding Music Video "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2006 Outstanding Music Video "Testify" Nominated
Outstanding Male Artist n/a Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards 2001 Best Hip-Hop Video "Geto Heaven Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)" Nominated
2003 MTV2 Award "Come Close" Nominated
2005 Best Hip-Hop Video "Go" Nominated
2006 Best Hip-Hop Video "Testify" Nominated
Soul Train Awards 2006 Best R&B/Soul Single by a Duo or Group "Supastar" Nominated
Best Music Video "Testify" Nominated
Vibe Awards 2005 Reelest Video "The Corner" Nominated

References

  1. ^ Rott, Ivan. "Common". http://rap.about.com/od/artists/p/Common.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  2. ^ "UMPG writers and artists receive (...) best R&B song of the year (...) category at grammy awards". Universal Music Publishing Group.
  3. ^ "Common Hoping To Get Kanye To Work On His New Album Tentatively Titled 'Finding Forever'". Freshhiphopnews.com. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  4. ^ "AskMen.com's Men of the Week: Entertainment - Common". http://www.askmen.com/men/entertainment_200/219c_common.html. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  5. ^ Yarborough, Marti (2005-06-27). "Hip-hop star Common talks about: new hit CD 'Be' being labeled a 'conscious rapper' his breakup with singer Erykah Badu who attracts him now". Jet. FindArticles.com. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_26_107/ai_n27857531/. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  6. ^ a b Huey, Steve (2007-07-31). "Common > Biography". allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:rtf6zfg8eh5k~T1. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  7. ^ Small, Elle J (2005-08-26)."Common Interview". Touch Magazine. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  8. ^ "Common Gets Thugged Out, Ghost Writing For Diddy Too". Sohh.com. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  9. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2006-04-19). "Kanye Says He Won't Do 'Fast-Food' Music — 'M:i:III' Track Took 50 Hours". MTV News. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  10. ^ XXLmag.com | Hip-Hop On A Higher Level | » Q-Tip and Common Form New Group, The Standard
  11. ^ Common Previews 'Invincible' New Album , 29 April 2k8
  12. ^ http://nahright.com/news/2008/10/09/no-id-kanye-to-helm-next-common-album/
  13. ^ "Common on Jonas Brothers New Album". IdioMag. http://www.idiomag.com/peek/83623/common#/83623/1/. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  14. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (2007-07-29). "Common ground for star". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.jimdero.com/News2007/Commonfeature.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  15. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2008-04-30). "Common critiques coverage of his former pastor -- the Rev. Jeremiah Wright". Hollywood Insider. EW.com. http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/04/common-wright-o.html. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  16. ^ "Serena Williams: 'I didn't do that drugs thing because of Venus'". Telegraph. November 11, 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/williamssisters/6539057/Serena-Williams-I-didnt-do-that-drugs-thing-because-of-Venus.html. 
  17. ^ "J Dilla’s turn in spotlight comes after his death". MSNBC. August 31, 2006. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14587861/. 
  18. ^ "[1] Common's earnings of 2008."
  19. ^ "Rapper Common Has Common Ground With Vegetarians". Vegetarianstar.com. 3 Feb 2009. http://vegetarianstar.com/2009/02/03/rapper-common-has-common-ground-with-vegetarians/. Retrieved 8 Mar 2010. 
  20. ^ "Hip-hop Artist Common Says, 'Think Before you eat'". Petaworld.com. Retrieved on 2006-12-07.
  21. ^ Hope, Clover (2004-11-15)."Common Encourages HIV Testing". Allhiphop.com. Retrieved on 2006-12-06.
  22. ^ Colin (2007). [Logo.com. Retrieved June 24, 2008. September 6, 2007.
  23. ^ ContactMusic.com. 09/05/2007 10:28:16 PM. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  24. ^ Four Justice League of America Casting Confirmations Arrive Early « FirstShowing.net
  25. ^ Common to appear in new 'Terminator' film | News | NME.COM
  26. ^ Orry, James (February 6, 2009). gamer.com/news/06-02-2009-10578.html "Wanted gets Hollywood voice cast". video gamer. http://www.video gamer.com/news/06-02-2009-10578.html. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 

External links


Common
Birth name Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
Also known as Common Sense
Born March 13, 1972 (1972-03-13) (age 37)[1]
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genre(s) Hip hop, Conscious hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, actor, poet, author
Years active 1992–present
Label(s) Relativity, MCA, G.O.O.D. Music, Geffen
Associated acts Soulquarians, J Dilla, Native Tongues, No I.D., YNot, will.i.am, Big Pun, Kanye West, The Standard, Erykah Badu, The Beatnuts, Pete Rock, Terror Squad, Mos Def, Ed O.G., Masta Ace, Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Jonas Brothers
Website thinkcommon.com

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage name Common (previously Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor.

Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 90s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. His first major label album, Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and moderate commercial success. Its popularity was matched by 2005's Be, which was nominated in the 2006 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album. Common was awarded his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West) (from Finding Forever), his first Grammy was awarded in 2003 for Best R&B Song for "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" with Erykah Badu.[2][3] His best-of album Thisisme Then was released on November 27, 2007. Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, and Terminator Salvation.

Contents

Early life

Common was born on Chicago's South Side. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahila Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. Common's parents divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. He later became a member of the notorious Four Corner Hustlers gang.[4] This left Common to be raised by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and even landed Common a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teen years.[5] While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Common also formed C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts such as N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane.[5] Common later left this group when he attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA to study business administration.[6]

Common dropped out of Florida A&M University and was featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine after a friend sent in a tape of Common rapping. Under the stage name Common Sense, he debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ" followed by the album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?.

Career

With the 1994 release of Resurrection, Common achieved a much larger degree of critical acclaim, which extended beyond Chicago natives. The album sold relatively well and received a strong positive reaction among alternative and underground hip-hop fans at the time. Resurrection was Common's last album produced almost entirely by his long-time production partner, No I.D., who was also the then-mentor of a young Kanye West.

Feud with Westside Connection

The song "I Used to Love H.E.R." from Resurrection ignited a feud with West Coast rap group Westside Connection. The lyrics of the song criticized the path hip-hop music was taking and was interpreted by some as directing blame towards the popularity of West Coast Gangsta rap. Westside Connection first responded with the 1995 song Westside Slaughterhouse, with the lyrics "Used to love H.E.R. mad cause I fucked her". Westside Connection recorded tracks venting their issues with rival East Coast rappers (see East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry). Westside Slaughterhouse also mentioned Common by name, prompting the rapper to respond with the scathing Pete Rock-produced attack song "The Bitch in Yoo". Common and Westside Connection continued to insult each other back and forth before finally meeting with Louis Farrakhan and setting aside their dispute. Following the popularity of Resurrection, Common Sense was sued by a Orange County-based reggae band with the same name, and was forced to shorten his moniker to simply Common.[7]

One Day It'll All Make Sense

Initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, Common finally released his third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, in September 1997. The album took a total of two years to complete and included collaborations with artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Q-Tip, Canibus, Black Thought, Chantay Savage, and Questlove - a future fellow member of the Soulquarians outfit. The album, which made a point of eschewing any gangsterism (in response to questions about his musical integrity), was critically acclaimed and led to a major label contract with MCA Records. In addition to releasing One Day, Common's first child, daughter Omoye Assata Lynn, was born shortly after the release of the album.

As documented by Hip hop journalist, Raquel Cepeda, in the liner notes for the album, this event had a profound spiritual and mental effect on Common and enabled him to grow musically while becoming more responsible as an artist. She writes:

Rashid found out that he was going to become a daddy in about 8 months. Stunned and confused, Rashid had life altering decisions to make with his girlfriend, Kim Jones. The situation led to the composition of his favourite cut on One Day... that offers a male slant on abortion. "Retrospect for Life", produced by James Poyser&No I.D. featuring Lauryn Hill (who was due on the same day as Rashid's girlfriend), is the song that is the driving force behind the project. Rashid listens to "Retrospect for Life" today at the mastering session geeked, as if it were for the first time. He tells me as we listen to L-Boogie wail the chorus, "when I listen to the song now, I think about how precious her (Omoye's) life is".

Common addresses family ethics several times on One Day..., and the album sleeve is decorated with old family photos, illustrating the rapper's childhood, as well a quote from Corinthians 13:11, which summarizes the path to manhood:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Soulquarians era

Following One Day..., Common signed a major label record deal with MCA Records and relocated from Chicago to New York City in 1999. He began recording almost exclusively with a loose collective of musicians and artists (dubbed the "Soulquarians" by central figure Questlove) throughout 1999, and made a few sporadic guest appearances on The Roots' Things Fall Apart, and the Rawkus Records compilation, Soundbombing 2.

In 2000, his fourth album, Like Water for Chocolate, was released to mass critical acclaim. Executive produced by Questlove and featuring significant contributions by J Dilla, (who helmed all but one track - the DJ Premier-produced track "The 6th Sense"), Like Water for Chocolate (album) transpired to be a considerable commercial breakthrough for Common, earning the rapper his first gold record, and greatly expanding his fanbase among critics and listeners alike.

This album saw Common exploring themes (musically and lyrically), which were uncommon for a Hip hop record, as he does on the song "Time Travelin' (A Tribute To Fela)"; a homage to Nigerian music legend, and political activist Fela Kuti. The most popular single from the album "The Light" was nominated for a Grammy Award. Around this time, Common began dating fellow Soulquarian Erykah Badu.

, New York City.]]

Electric Circus
The rapper's next album, Electric Circus was released in December 2002. It featured more experimental work with the Soulquarians, as well as contributions from The Neptunes and Prince. The album was something of a departure from Common's previous releases (and indeed from Hip hop music in general), and featured Common rapping over electric rock music, and electronica-influenced tracks. It received polarizing reviews, with many critics praising it as a musical tour de force and a visionary expansion of the Hip hop template, while others criticized it for veering too far from accessibility and viewing Common's role as secondary to the musicianship of the Soulquarians (it should be noted that Common has himself stated that it was his intention at the time to make an atypical hip hop record).

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the album did not sell as well as Like Water for Chocolate (album), with many longtime fans being turned off by its eclectic sound, and the album suffering from a lack of promotion due to MCA's absorption by Geffen Records. In 2003, Common won his first Grammy for his appearance on Erykah Badu's "Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)", a song he performed with Badu for the soundtrack to the movie Brown Sugar. His romantic relationship with Badu, however, ended that same year.

G.O.O.D. Music Era

In early 2004, Common made an appearance on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West's multi-platinum debut album, The College Dropout (on the song "Get Em High"), and announced his signing to West's then-newfound label GOOD Music. West had been a longtime fan of Common and the two even participated in a friendly on-air MC battle, where West took jabs at his lyrical idol for "going soft" and wearing crochet pants (as he does for his appearance in the video for the Mary J. Blige song "Dance for Me"). The pair worked together on Common's next album, Be, almost entirely produced by Kanye West, with some help from Common's longtime collaborator the late James Yancey (J Dilla) - also a favorite of West's. The album was released in May 2005, and performed very well, boosted by Kanye's involvement and the singles "The Corner", and "Go". Be earned Common the second gold record of his career, with sales topping out at around 800,000. The Source magazine gave it a near perfect 4.5 mic rating, XXL magazine gave it their highest rating of "XXL", and AllHipHop gave the album 5 stars. The album was also nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2006.

Following the release of Be in 2005, several mixed-race artists from the UK hip-hop scene took exception to Common's comments about interracial relationships on the song "Real People", and in an interview. The situation started out with an article from UK's Touch magazine, in which he stated "When you see dreadlocked dudes with white girls that’s like they going against what the dreadlock’s purpose was."[8] Yungun, Doc Brown and Rising Son recorded a track over an instrumental version of "The Corner" named "Dear Common (The Corner Dub)". Common states that he has heard of the track but never actually taken the time to listen to it, and has not retaliated in song.[9]

Finding Forever
Common's seventh LP titled Finding Forever was released on 31 July 2007. For this album, he continued his work with Kanye West, as well as other producers such as will.i.am, Devo Springsteen, Derrick Hodge, and Karriem Riggins, as well as the only J. Dilla-produced track, "So Far To Go". The album features guest spots from artists such as Dwele, Bilal, D'Angelo, and UK pop starlet Lily Allen. The first single from the album was "The People" b/w "The Game". West has already predicted that Finding Forever will win the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album [10]. On July 31, 2007, Common performed a free concert in Santa Monica, California on the 3rd Street Promenade to promote the release of Finding Forever. Common explained to the audience that the title "Finding Forever" represented his quest to find an eternal place in hip-hop and also his wishes to be an artist for the rest of his life. The album debuted at #1 on the national Billboard 200 charts.

In a recent interview (circa August 30, 2007) with XXL, rapper Q-Tip of the group A Tribe Called Quest stated that he and Common were forming a group called The Standard. While the two were meant to hit the studio to record a Q-Tip-produced album, possibly with contributions from Kanye West, Common put out Universal Mind Control instead and has already planned a next album, The Believer, for 2009.[11]

in April 2008.]]

Universal Mind Control
The 8th album from Chicago hip-hop artist Common was originally scheduled to be released on June 24, 2008 under the name Invincible Summer, but he announced at a Temple University concert that he would change it to Universal Mind Control.[12] The release date was pushed back to September 30, 2008 due to Common filming Wanted. The release date was set for November 11, 2008, but again it was pushed back to December 9, 2008.

The album's first single, titled "Universal Mind Control", was officially released on July 1, 2008 via the US iTunes Store as part of the Announcement EP (sold as "Universal Mind Control-EP" in the UK). The song features Pharrell, who also produced the track. The Announcement EP included an additional track track titled "Announcement" featuring its producer, Pharrell. The video for "Universal Mind Control" was filmed in September by director Hype Williams.

Producer No I.D. has stated that he, Adam Boulesbaa, and Kanye West will be producing Common's next album The Believer, due in 2009.[13]. Common made an appearance on The Jonas Brothers most recent album, "Lines, Vines and Trying Times" as a guest rapper for the group's new song, "Don't Charge Me for the Crime."[14]

Personal life

Common has a daughter, Omoye Assata Lynn (born 1997).[15] Since childhood, he was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Following the controversy over one of Wright's sermons, Common criticized the American news media's coverage of the incident as having "an agenda."[16] He dated Erykah Badu from 2000 to around 2003. Dating rumors have always swirled around Common, from singer/actress Alicia Keys to actress Taraji P. Henson both of whom played alongside Common in the movie Smokin' Aces. Common played the role of Alicia Keys's boyfriend in the music video "Like You'll Never See Me Again" and his own music video "I Want You," making speculations even stronger. He is currently linked to professional tennis player Serena Williams.

With both artists hailing from the Great Lakes region of the United States (Chicago and Detroit, respectively), Common and J Dilla established their chemistry early on. Both became members of the Soulquarians collective, and collaborated on numerous projects together, even placing one song, "Thelonius", on both the Slum Village album Fantastic, Vol. 2, and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. As Dilla's health began to decline from the effects of Lupus Nephritis, he relocated to Los Angeles for treatment, and asked Common to make the move with him as a roommate.[17] Dilla would lose his battle with the rare disease, but his asking of Common to move in with him during his darkest hour is testament of a friendship between the two that transcended rap music, or the music industry. As a result, Common is a friend of the Yancey Family, particularly with J Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey.

Advertising

In 2000, Common was a model for photos of The Gap's fall season collection, appearing on posters in stores. Later that year, he performed in The Gap's "Holiday In Your Hood" themed Peace Love Gap. In February 2007, Common signed a deal with New Era to promote their new line of Layers fitted caps. Common also stars in a television commercial for the 2008 Lincoln Navigator. He appears in NBA 2k7 in Streetball mode. In the fall of 2008, Common appeared in an ad for Microsoft's Zune, comparing his new song, "Universal Mind Control," to ,"Planet Rock," a song from hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.

Business

As of the 29th of September 2008 Common was instrumental in bridging the trans-Atlantic gap by signing UK's Mr Wong and J2K to Kanye West's Getting Out Our Dreams recording outfit. Common met the pair during his tour in the UK earlier on in the year. It is speculated that the deal is not only to bring the UK and US hip hop genres together but that to rival Syco Music's cross-Atlantic success with Leona Lewis. He also has a deal with Zune mp3 players. In 2008 Common made an estimated 12 million dollars, making him equal in earnings to Eminem and Akon, tied for the 13th highest grossing Hip-Hop artist.[18] In December 2008, Common will launch a new clothing line in partnership with Microsoft titled "Softwear", based on 1980s computing.

Activism

Common previously maintained a vegan diet[19] and is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. He recently appeared in a print advertisement for PETA titled "Think Before You Eat".[20] Common is also part of the "Knowing Is Beautiful" movement which supports HIV/AIDS awareness.[21] He is featured in the video for "Yes We Can," a song in support of the candidacy of Barack Obama, which made its debut on the internet on February 2, 2008. Common has pledged to stop using anti-gay lyrics in his music.[22][23]

Acting career

In 2003, Common appeared on the popular American UPN sitcom Girlfriends. In the episode "Take This Poem and Call Me In The Morning", he appeared as Omar, a slam poet who competes with fellow poet Sivad (played by Saul Williams) for the affection of Lynn Searcy (played by Persia White). He also had a cameo appearance on an episode of UPN's One on One, where he played a drama class instructor named Darius. He also made an appearance on the NBC show "Scrubs". In 2007, Common appeared with Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys in the crime film Smokin' Aces. He made his big screen debut as villainous Mob enforcer Sir Ivy. He appeared alongside Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, The RZA and T.I. in the 2007 crime thriller American Gangster. On 20 January 2007, one week before the opening of Smokin Aces, he appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch as himself. The show's host was Piven, his Aces co-star. In 2008, he starred in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie; and was cast as the Green Lantern/John Stewart in the live adaptaton of The Justice League. Common also appeared in the movie Street Kings alongside Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, The Game, and Forest Whitaker.[24] He also appeared in the 2009 film Terminator Salvation.[25] Recently he has been linked with a role in the upcoming A Team movie as character B.A. Baracus.

Discography

Year Album Label
1992 Can I Borrow a Dollar? Relativity Records
1994 Resurrection
1997 One Day It'll All Make Sense
2000 Like Water for Chocolate MCA Records
Universal Records
2002 Electric Circus
2005 Be G.O.O.D.
Geffen
Imani Entertainment
2007 Finding Forever
2008 Universal Mind Control
2010 The Believer[26]

Filmography

Year Movie Role Notes
2002 Brown Sugar Himself
2006 Dave Chapelle's Block Party Himself
2007 Smokin' Aces Sir Ivy
American Gangster Turner Lucas
2008 Street Kings Coates
Wanted The Gunsmith
2009 Wanted: Weapons of Fate Brummel[27] video game voice
Terminator Salvation Barnes video game voice
Terminator Salvation Barnes
2010 Date Night TBA
TBA The Green Lantern John Stewart (comics)

Awards and nominations

Award Year Type Song or album Notes
BET Awards 2006 Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
2003 Video of the Year "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
2003 Viewer's Choice "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2003 Best Collaboration "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
BET Hip Hop Awards 2006 Element Award - Lyricist of the Year Won
2006 Hip-Hop Video of the Year "Testify" Nominated
2007 Lyricist of the Year Won
2007 CD of the Year Finding Forever Won
2007 Best Hip Hop Video "The People" Nominated
2007 Best Live Performance Nominated
2007 MVP Of The Year Nominated
Black Reel Awards 2003 Best Film Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
Grammy Awards 2008 Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group "Southside" Won
2008 Best Rap Album Finding Forever Nominated
2008 Best Rap Solo Performance "The People" Nominated
2006 Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group "The Corner" Nominated
2006 Best Rap/Sung Collaboration "They Say" Nominated
2006 Best Rap Album Be Nominated
2006 Best Rap Solo Performance Testify Nominated
2003 Best Song Written for a Motion Picture/Television Movie "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2003 Best R&B Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
2003 Best Urban/Alternative Performance "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2001 Best Rap Solo Performance "The Light" Nominated
Image Awards 2006 Outstanding Music Video "Testify" Nominated
2006 Outstanding Male Artist n/a Nominated
2003 Outstanding Duo or Group "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2003 Outstanding Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2003 Outstanding Music Video "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards 2006 Best Hip-Hop Video "Testify" Nominated
2005 Best Hip-Hop Video "Go" Nominated
2003 MTV2 Award "Come Close" Nominated
2001 Best Hip-Hop Video "Geto Heaven Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)" Nominated
Soul Train Awards 2006 Best R&B/Soul Single by a Duo or Group "Supastar" Nominated
2006 Best Music Video "Testify" Nominated
Vibe Awards 2005 Reelest Video "The Corner" Nominated

References

  1. ^ Rott, Ivan. "Common". http://rap.about.com/od/artists/p/Common.htm. Retrieved on 2008-12-20. 
  2. ^ "UMPG writers and artists receive (...) best R&B song of the year (...) category at grammy awards". Universal Music Publishing Group.
  3. ^ "Common Hoping To Get Kanye To Work On His New Album Tentatively Titled 'Finding Forever'". Freshhiphopnews.com. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  4. ^ Chicago rapper has cure for common hip-hop
  5. ^ a b "AskMen.com's Men of the Week: Entertainment - Common". http://www.askmen.com/men/entertainment_200/219c_common.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-13. 
  6. ^ "Common". http://www.buddytv.com/common.aspx. Retrieved on 2008-10-21. 
  7. ^ Huey, Steve (2007-07-31). "Common > Biography". allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:rtf6zfg8eh5k~T1. Retrieved on 2008-09-09. 
  8. ^ Small, Elle J (2005-08-26)."Common Interview". Touch Magazine. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  9. ^ "Common Gets Thugged Out, Ghost Writing For Diddy Too". Sohh.com. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  10. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2006-04-19). "Kanye Says He Won't Do 'Fast-Food' Music — 'M:i:III' Track Took 50 Hours". MTV News. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  11. ^ XXLmag.com | Hip-Hop On A Higher Level | » Q-Tip and Common Form New Group, The Standard
  12. ^ Common Previews 'Invincible' New Album , 29 April 2k8
  13. ^ http://nahright.com/news/2008/10/09/no-id-kanye-to-helm-next-common-album/
  14. ^ "Common on Jonas Brothers New Album". IdioMag. http://www.idiomag.com/peek/83623/common#/83623/1/. Retrieved on 2009-06-11. 
  15. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (2007-07-29). "Common ground for star". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.jimdero.com/News2007/Commonfeature.htm. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  16. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2008-04-30). "Common critiques coverage of his former pastor -- the Rev. Jeremiah Wright". Hollywood Insider. EW.com. http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/04/common-wright-o.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  17. ^ "J Dilla’s turn in spotlight comes after his death". MSNBC. August 31, 2006. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14587861/. 
  18. ^ "[1] Common's earnings of 2008."
  19. ^ "Hip-hop artists spread word on vegetarian, vegan diets in black community." Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  20. ^ "Hip-hop Artist Common Says, 'Think Before you eat'". Petaworld.com. Retrieved on 2006-12-07.
  21. ^ Hope, Clover (2004-11-15)."Common Encourages HIV Testing". Allhiphop.com. Retrieved on 2006-12-06.
  22. ^ Colin (2007). [Logo.com. Retrieved June 24, 2008. September 6, 2007.
  23. ^ ContactMusic.com. 09/05/2007 10:28:16 PM. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  24. ^ Four Justice League of America Casting Confirmations Arrive Early « FirstShowing.net
  25. ^ Common to appear in new 'Terminator' film | News | NME.COM
  26. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2008-10-22). "Common Plans To Release The Believer As His Next Album After Universal Mind Control". MTV News. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1597694/20081022/common.jhtml. Retrieved on 2009-07-10. 
  27. ^ Orry, James (February 6, 2009). "gamer.com/news/06-02-2009-10578.html Wanted gets Hollywood voice cast" (in English). video gamer. http://www.video gamer.com/news/06-02-2009-10578.html. Retrieved on 2009-02-07. 

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