Blender (Magazine) - p.1053.5 stars out of 5
-- "[The collection] reveals a young man grappling with complex issues...with fleet, sophisticated rhymes."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.904 stars out of 5
-- "This collection is the sound of a rapper not only finding his feet, but producing what still stands as some of his greatest work."
Personnel: Tony Orbach (saxophone); Lenny Underwood, Spike Rebel (keyboards); Vere Isaac (bass guitar); Mista Sinista, YNOT (scratches); The Twilite Tone (background vocals).
Additional personnel: Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, Cee Lo Green, Chantay Savage.
Thisisme Then: The Best of Common surveys the early career of the Chi-town artist formerly known as Sense. Drawing from his first three albums (Can I Borrow a Dollar? Resurrection, One Day It'll All Make Sense), this collection of 15 classic tracks gives a picture of Common's stylistic evolution. The earliest first-album cuts show us an MC whose high-energy, conspicuously squeaky tongue-twister vocals, and comedic subject matter mirrored a variety of hip-hop acts of the day (Das EFX, Redman, et al.). The Resurrection tracks mark a clear turning point -- a move away from light-hearted content toward poetic maturity. "I Used to Love H.E.R.," with its airtight extended metaphor, remains one of the most poignant hip-hop songs of all time. By album three, Common had garnered respect from the likes of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, and his work heralded the arrival of a new kind of conscious super MC, capable of speaking from the heart on subjects such as street crime ("Stolen Moments"), abortion ("Retrospective for Life"), religion ("G.O.D."), and coming to terms with one's adolescent past ("Reminding Me (Of Sef)"). Thisisme Then also includes the rarely heard "High Expectations" from the soundtrack to the 1997 film Soul in the Hole.