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Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. was born on March 13th 1972 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. After taking up rapping in his late teens he took the stage name Common, and has gone on to have one of the most critically acclaimed careers in hip hop history.
Common’s first brush with hip hop stardom came with a group he formed called C.D.R. with two of his childhood friends. One of whom was called Ernest Dion Wilson, who you might know today as legendary producer No I.D, who would go on to produce most of Common’s early solo work, not to mention Jay Z’s “D.O.A: Death Of Auto-Tune”.
The group toured a bunch and played gigs with the N.W.A and Big Daddy Kane but it wasn’t until Common went solo in 1992 that he started really realizing his true potential. Two years later he released the album Resurrection and all bets were off. Up until that point he’d been a name in Chicago alone but after that album dropped his name spread all over the country.
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It says a lot that Common’s first feud came from criticising the path that mainstream hip hop was going down. He lamented the decline of conscious or political hip hop in his immortal track “I Used To Love H.E.R” and put at least some of the blame on West Cost Gangsta rap. Los Angeles super-group Westside Connection took issue with this and the two acts traded barbs for a couple of years.
However, one must only look at Common’s subsequent album to see that he practised what he preached. “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” contains guest appearances from Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Questlove and Q-Tip, and distanced itself from any hint of Gansta rap culture.
It was the album that got him a Major label contract with MCA records and the rest is history. To this day, Common is hailed as the voice of reason and intelligence in mainstream hip hop.
Albums like “Like Water For Chocolate” and “Finding Forever” have balanced strong sales, eloquent rapping and genre experiments with rock, neo-soul and electronica. A true national treasure that we should be grateful to have.