Common Biography

Lonnie Rashied Lynn Jnr., 13 March 1972, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Originally recording under the expanded pseudonym Common Sense, Lynn is one of the more enlightened contemporary rappers, proffering a heady mix of verbiage and syncopated hip-hop rhythms. He made his debut in 1992 with Can I Borrow A Dollar?, a series of tracts on consumer identity with the occasional lapse into X-rated anatomical detail to make it a hit with the hardcore hip-hop audience. Conversely, the best song was ‘Take It EZ’, a laid-back statement of identity and individuality. By the advent of Resurrection in 1994, Lynn had abandoned some of the bloated misogyny of the debut, and the results were excellent. Fuelled by the soul and funk beats of his DJ No I.D., the album provided the rapper with a license to indulge his self-evident love of vocabulary and syntax (particularly affecting was his sketch of black economics - ‘Chapter 13 (Rich Man vs. Poor Man)’).

A follow-up set was then delayed as Lynn lost a court battle to retain the rights to his name Common Sense, eventually abbreviating it simply to Common. In the interim, he also completed classes in music theory, encouraging him to bring live instrumentation to the fore on his new recordings. 1997’s One Day It’ll All Make Sense also displayed further development in songwriting. Although it lacked the consistency of its predecessor, there were several outstanding tracks, notably the single ‘Reminding Me (Of Sef)’, which mourned the loss of a childhood friend.

Common made his MCA Records debut in March 2000 with Like Water For Chocolate, bringing on board musical guests including D’Angelo, Mos Def, Macy Gray, Roy Hargrove and Femi Kuti to help flesh out his musical ambitions. On the bold follow-up Electric Circus, Common experimented with other musical genres to create a wildly erratic but compelling multi-layered album that stood out as one of the most ambitious hip-hop releases of 2002.

The confusion many of the artist’s fans must have felt on listening to Electric Circus obviously hit home, with Common going back-to-basics on his next album and turning in a concise and cohesive group of songs. Released by Geffen Records in May 2005, Be debuted at number 2 in the mainstream charts. Common renewed acquaintances with Be’s producer Kanye West on the 2007 follow-up, Finding Forever. In the interim, he had launched an acting career with a leading role in the hit movie Smokin’ Aces.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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