Real Name: Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
D.O.B.: March 13th, 1972 Southside Chicago, Illinois
Label: G.O.O.D Music/Geffen
Common is a Chi-town conscious hip-hop artist. 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. His best-of album Thisisme Then was released on November 27, 2007. Common recently started a burgeoning film career, starting with a role in action thriller, Smokin’ Aces, followed by a part in American Gangster.
Common was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the son of educator 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. 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. While in high school, Common also formed C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts such as N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane. Common later left this group when he attended Florida A&M University to study business administration.
Can I Borrow a Dollar
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?. At a time when he was Known as Common Sense, the first album in the studio catalogue, Can I Borrow a Dollar? dropped in 1992. The album was entirely produced by No I.D then Immenslope, The Beatnuts and Twilite Tone. It contains guest vocals from Immenslope, Miss Jones and Common’s then-girlfriend Rayshel. Entertainment Weekly’s Neil Drumming describes it as “a clever but little-noticed first album.” In 1991, a feature was written about Common in the Unsigned Hype section of The Source. Relativity Records soon signed Common, and prepared to release three singles for his début album. The first and best-charting single, 1992’s “Take It EZ,” boasted an upbeat 2 pc. DRK production. “Take It EZ” reached #5 on the Hot Rap Singles chart while his next two singles, “Breaker 1/9” and “Soul by the Pound,” reached #10 and #7 respectively. All of these singles combined to give Common a strong underground reputation prior to the album’s release. Characteristic of early 90s’ hip hop, and released prior to the song that gave Common a solid underground following, 1994’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, Can I Borrow A Dollar? shows Common’s earlier style of rapping; namely a sing-songy and inflection-heavy vocal delivery, as well as lyrics packed with wordplay and popular culture allusions. The album’s production, utilizing samples, keyboards, and drum breaks prominently, tends to be minimalistic, jazzy and laid back. The Source called the production top notch. Although receiving a lukewarm reception, Stanton Swihart of All Music Guide considers it to have put Chicago hip hop on the map and to be an underrated début album
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. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine’s 100 Best Rap Albums. The album is divided into two sections; the “East Side of Stony” and “West Side of Stony”. Stony Island Avenue is a street that runs through the South Side of Chicago, where Common was raised. The closing track, “Pop’s Rap” was the first of a series of tracks featuring spoken word and poetry by Common’s father, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn, which Common has used to close several of his albums since. Interlaced throughout the album are short interludes which form a loose narrative concerning day-to-day life on the South Side. Songs such as “Thisisme” are full of self-assessing raps that reflect the rapper’s personal growth since 1992’s Can I Borrow A Dollar?. Likewise the crasser moments found on that LP, such as a the misogynistic “Heidi Hoe” are greatly toned down for Resurrection, and replaced by thought-provoking narratives such as “Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs. Poor Man)”, and “I Used to Love H.E.R.” - a song that re-imagines Hip hop as a formerly unadulterated woman, led astray after being enticed by secular elements of life. The use of a conflicted woman as an allegory for Hip hop allowed Common to covertly express his disdain at the music’s turn towards gangsta rap inspired content, and what he saw as the resulting reorientation of rap artists. Incidentally this song, which brought Common to the attention of fans and music critics alike, would also become the cause of a rift between the rapper and West Coast emcee Ice Cube, who took exception to the insinuation that the West Coast pioneered style of gangsta rap was detrimental to Hip hop - even going as far as to claim that Hip hop altogether “started in the West”. Together with his Westside Connection compatriots, Cube hurled insults Common’s way on the song “Westside Slaughterhouse” and throughout their album Bow Down, to which the rapper replied with the equally venomous “The Bitch in Yoo”. In the aftermath of the murders of both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the rivalry would be settled out of public view at a peacemaking function held by Louis Farrakhan at his home. For Resurrection, producer No I.D. polished up on the production techniques from Can I Borrow, providing for Common, a canvas full of lush jazz samples, deep, throbbing basslines, dusty, thumping drums, and crackling snares. With the majority of tracks handled by one producer with the exception of “Chapter 13” and “Sum Shit I Wrote” by Ynot. The album maintains a cohesive feel and fluid sequencing. Fans of No I.D. often cite this album as his best work. The sounds range from the upbeat “Communism” to the downbeat “Nuthin’ To Do” and from the smooth and sleek “I Used to Love H.E.R.” to the rugged “Sum Shit I Wrote”. Similar to other Hip hop productions of the time, the sources for many of the samples are from less obvious choices such as The New Apocalypse, and their cover of “Get Out Of My Life, Woman”, which is used for the song “Watermelon”.
Resurrection is frequently held to be a classic album by rap critics. Many longtime Common fans believe it to be the rapper’s best work. This album signified both the arrival of a level of maturity in Common’s work, and yet the end of his first phase, which was characterized by a more straightforward, and underground based sound. Subsequent albums by the rapper would see him delving into experimentation and themes such as love, which perhaps marks his second phase. In the Rolling Stone review Touré wrote of the album: “Resurrection belongs among the best recent hardcore albums: Illmatic, by Nas, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), by Wu-Tang Clan, and Ready to Die, by the Notorious B.I.G.”. Despite the acclaim, the album sold poorly, barely charting inside of the Billboard 200 the album sold 2,000 copies and was dropped from the billboard charts. This may be a factor in the notable presence of R&B vocalists on Common’s next album One Day It’ll All Make Sense. The song “I Used to Love H.E.R.” from Resurrection ignited a feud with West Coast rapper Ice Cube. 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. Ice Cube first responded with the 1995 song Westside Slaughterhouse, with the lyrics “Used to love H.E.R. mad cause I fucked her”. Along with his group Westside Connection, Ice Cube 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 Ice Cube 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 Los Angeles-based reggae band with the same name, and was forced to shorten his moniker to simply “Common”.
One Day It’ll All Make Sense
One Day It’ll All Make Sense is the third studio album from Common, released in 1997. This was the last Common album to feature production from producer No I.D. (until 2012’s scheduled LP). Initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, it finally dropped in September 1997. The album’s recording was put on hold for up to a year as Common was busy becoming a father. After the birth of his child, Common returned to finish the album, albeit with a newer sense of responsibility, which he relates to his transformation from bachelor to father. He recorded “Retrospect For Life”, with Fugees member Lauryn Hill, as a dedication to his first child Omoye Assata Lynn (born shortly after the album’s release). The song became the first single to be released from the album, and was accompanied by a video as were “Invocation”, “Hungry”, and “(Reminding Me) Of Sef” (a eulogy to a close, deceased friend of Common’s). The album included collaborations with Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, Canibus, Black Thought, Chantay Savage, and ?uestlove - 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, and 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”.
The multi-talented Cee-Lo, who at the time was still a member of Southern Hip hop group Goodie Mob, provides the vocals for the spiritual “G.O.D.” (which stands for “Gaining One’s Definition”). Rapper Canibus makes an early career appearance on the track “Making A Name For Ourselves”, as do veterans De La Soul on “Gettin’ Down At The Amphitheater”. Other guests include Black Thought, and Q-Tip on “Stolen Moments” Parts “II” and “III” respectively, and Common’s future love interest Erykah Badu, on “All Night Long”, which was produced by The Roots. Chicagoan poet Malik Yusef, waxes lyrical about his hometown on “My City”, and as usual Common’s father Lonnie Lynn closes the album out with some words of wisdom on “Pop’s Rap Part 2 / Fatherhood”.
Although One Day… was better received by record buyers than the rappers’ previous album, it was criticized by some longtime Common fans, mainly for its slightly more conventional production even though album received Good Reviews it was a billboard flop like his second album resurrection that only sold 2,000 copies and One Day it’ll all Make Sense only sold 50,000 copies. Some felt that No I.D.’s scaled down contribution was a factor in this. After the release of One Day… Common would relocate to New York and begin working with the Soulquarians for that album. Common addresses family ethics several times on One Day…, The album’s cover is a picture of an 8 year old Common with his mother, Dr. Ann Hines, at an airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1980. The sleeve is decorated with old family photos, illustrating the rapper’s childhood, as well a quote from Corinthians 13:12, 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.
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 ) throughout 1999, and made a few sporadic guest appearances on The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, and the Rawkus Records compilation, Soundbombing 2. On March 28th, 2000, his fourth album, Like Water for Chocolate was released to mass critical acclaim. Executive produced by ?uestlove 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 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. It was a considerable commercial breakthrough for the rapper, selling 70,000 copies in its first week. The album was certified Gold on August 11, 2000. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album had sold 748,000 copies by March, 2005. The video for “The Light” was frequently shown on MTV, adding to Common’s exposure. The album also formally marked the coming together of the Soulquarians; a collective composed of ?uestlove (of The Roots), the late Jay Dee (formerly of Slum Village), keyboardist James Poyser, and bassist Pino Palladino among numerous other collaborators. In 1997 Common moved to New York City where he began collaborating with the Soulquarians at Electric Lady Studios. It was there that Ahmir Thompson () who oversaw the album’s production, introduced Common to D’Angelo. Thompson had been doing a great deal of producing there with several members of the Soulquarians, including D’Angelo. The track “Geto Heaven Part Two” was originally supposed to be a track on D’Angelo’s 2000 album Voodoo, but was traded for “Chicken Grease,” a track which Common had intended to include on Like Water for Chocolate. The title comes from the 1989 Laura Esquivel novel Like Water for Chocolate, which was adapted into a movie in 1993. The phrase “Like water for chocolate” is of Spanish origin (translated, como agua para chocolate). In many Latin American countries, hot chocolate is made with water rather than milk. The phrase refers to someone who has reached their boiling point, like water ready to be used to make chocolate. Like Water For Chocolate received positive reviews from music critics such as Rolling Stone’s kris ex, who called Common “A hip-hop MC willing to actually examine himself through his art.” Spin Magazine gave it a rating of 8/10 calling it “His most aggressive and powerful record yet.” The Wire called it his “best album”, and Mojo chimed in with “most user-friendly contribution so far to the wave of ‘conscious’ rap”. NME called him a “great storyteller” who is “Equal parts philosopher and documentarian”. In 2004, PopMatters’ Marc Lamont Hill named the album his personal favourite, writing:
“To me, a favorite album isn’t necessarily the best album in the collection. A favourite album is the one that you wrap yourself in when you’re feeling happy, sad, angry, lonely, or nostalgic. A favourite album is the one that you feel personally connected to in ways that are difficult to explain. For me, that album is Common’s Like Water For Chocolate.”
The album’s hit single, “The Light” received a 2001 Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Electric Circus was released in December 2002. The album was highly anticipated, and although many critics praised it for its ambitious vision, it didn’t sell as well as his previous album, Like Water for Chocolate. An eclectic album, it features fusions of several genres such as Hip hop, Pop, Rock, Electronic, and Neo Soul. This was Common’s second and last album for MCA Records, released prior to their absorption under Geffen. Common worked with a large (and eclectic) number of musicians on Electric Circus. Among them were Mary J. Blige (who provided vocals for the album’s lead single, “Come Close”), The Neptunes, Laetitia Sadier (of Stereolab), Cee-Lo, Bilal and Jill Scott. The music on Electric Circus challenges the boundaries of the hip hop genre in a similar fashion to The Roots’ Phrenology (2002) and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003). This is especially the case on tracks like the grungy “Electric Wire Hustler Flower” (featuring P.O.D.’s Sonny Sandoval in the chorus), the abstract “Aquarius”, and the electronic “New Wave”. Erykah Badu joins Common for a duet on (“Jimi Was A Rock Star”), which is a dedication to Jimi Hendrix. The second Neptunes collaboration on the record, the cross-genre “I Got A Right Ta”, is a musical departure from the styles of both artists, and features Pharrell Williams singing the hook in a blues-inspired style. A triumphant sounding Common proclaims himself “the only cat in hip hop that can go into a thrift shop, bring that get up to the ghetto and get props”. The song was placed on the B-Side of “Come Close”. “Between Me, You & Liberation”, in which Common discusses sexual abuse and its effects on a young woman, confronting his homophobia after learning about the sexuality of a longtime friend, and the loss of a relative to cancer, contains themes wholly unusual for a rap song, and is perhaps, the rapper’s most vulnerable moment on record. About “Liberation…” Pop Matters wrote that it’s “one of those rare occasions when a male hip-hop artist owns up to his investment in some of the genre’s more unsavory sexual politics”. Musically, the song is very downbeat and moody, and features a guest spot from rapper/singer/producer Cee-Lo (making this the pair’s third collaboration after One Day It’ll All Make Sense’s “G.O.D.”, and Like Water For Chocolate’s “A Song For Assata”).
Following LWFC’s tributes to Fela Kuti, and Assata Shakur, Electric Circus pays homage to someone altogether more familiar (Jimi Hendrix) on “Jimi Was A Rock Star”. The 8 minute-plus song is a duet between Common and his then-girlfriend Erykah Badu, which gradually builds up into its cryptic, chanting finale. This song is Common’s first all-singing performance. The center-piece of the album, the epic “Heaven Somewhere”, features 6 vocalists who all give insight into what their interpretation of Heaven is. Common’s father Lonnie Lynn ends the affair by saying: Heaven is being pops heaven is spending the day with your grandchildren listenin’ to they voices and they laughing and play and then at the end of the day we hug we kiss and slowly they walk away and then suddenly they turn and rush back to me and hug me round the knees yeah, that’s heaven to me. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Common admitted:
“The label hadn’t heard my music until I got near the end of the album. At one point it was like ‘yo, man, you departed so far from the last album … the music you’re making ain’t really conducive to what’s going on in modern music right now’.”
The album’s style tended to divide critics; most praised its ambitious vision while some criticized it for the same reason. Most of the criticism tended to revolve around the albums experimental nature. Some felt Common had strayed too far from his previous sound. Longtime Common fans also viewed his relationship with Erykah Badu as having an overly experimental influence on him. Official reviews, however, were mostly positive. “Pushing past the accepted boundaries of contemporary black pop” is how Pop Matters described the album. Likewise, Play Louder agreed calling it “a brilliant, visionary album” as did Rolling Stone who saw it as “breaking hip-hop rules with a freewheeling fearlessness”. Ink Blot Magazine’s Matt Cibula called it his “favorite record of 2002”. Despite the critical approval, the record debuted at #45 on the Billboard 200 chart - 31 spots lower than Like Water for Chocolate’s highest chart position. With “Come Close” as the only single, the album quickly fell off the charts altogether, and MCA Records halted any further promotion. Part of the reason for its lack of promotion was MCA’s absorption under Geffen Records in spring 2003, a mere four months after the albums release. Since both labels were under the Universal Music Group, Common’s record contract would be carried over to Geffen but the handling of Electric Circus (an already under performing album) was neglected. The lack of promotion may have also caused 293,000 copies to be sold based on 2005 Nielsen SoundScan statistics. In a 2006 interview concurrent with the release of The Roots’ album Game Theory, ?uestlove, the album’s executive producer, maintained that Common’s relationship with Erykah Badu had little influence on the album and stated that the greater influence was the recording atmosphere and the group of artists that Common was collaborating with at the time. The album was recorded at the famous Electric Lady Studios (built by Jimi Hendrix):
“To understand that record is to understand the history of what Electric Lady Studios was to this whole Soulquarian unit. We started off in the spring of ‘96 and that’s where we created Things Fall Apart for The Roots, D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Erykah’s Mama’s Gun, Common’s Like Water for Chocolate, the Black Star record, Mos Def’s record, Bilal’s record, Musiq’s album… Pretty much the left of center of hip-hop was using that place as much more than a studio. That place was like a clubhouse: you’d [go] even if you didn’t have a session, just hopin’ somethin’ would come up.”
The album’s cover appears to be a nod to The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, another work known for its experimental nature. The images (a mixture of known personalities, personal friends, and family of the artist) represent those directly or indirectly involved in, or influential to the making of the album. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the album did not sell as well as Like Water For Chocolate, 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 under 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 début 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’s 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 favourite 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.
Common’s seventh LP titled Finding Forever was released on July 31, 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.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 an August 2007 interview 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 Dreamer, The Believer, for late 2011.
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.
The eighth 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. 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 and Kanye West will be producing Common’s next album The Dreamer The Believer, due sometime in 2011. In July 2011, it was announced that No I.D. will be the album’s sole producer.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.”
On July 6, 2011, Common released his first single from his upcoming album with a guest appearance from New York legend Nas entitled Ghetto Dreams to mostly positive reviews.
On October 4, 2011, Common released his second single from his upcoming album The Dreamer, The Believer with production from No I.D. entitled “Blue Sky”.
Outside of Music
Common is father to 10 year old Omoye Assata Lynn (named after exiled and former Black Panther Party member, Assata Shakur). He dated Erykah Badu from 2000 - around 2003. Common has found himself in many dating rumors. Aside from Alicia Keys he’s also been linked to Serena Williams and actress Taraji P. Henson who played along side Common and Alicia Keys in Smokin’ Aces. Common played the role of Alicia Keys’s boyfriend in the music video “Like You’ll Never See Me Again”, making speculations even stronger. 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 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. Common maintains a vegan diet and is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. He recently appeared in a print advertisement for PETA titled “Think Before You Eat”. Common is also part of the “Knowing Is Beautiful” movement which supports HIV/AIDS awareness. He is featured in the video for “Yes We Can,” a song in support of the candidacy of Barack Obama, which made its début on the internet on February 2nd, 2008. 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 2k7 in Streetball mode.
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”. He is shown MC’ing in a club. In 2007, Common appeared alongside 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. It has been announced that in 2008, he will star in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted, alongside Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie, and as the Green Lantern in the 2009 live adaptation of The Justice League. Common will also appear in the movie Street Kings alongside Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, the Game, and Forrest Whitaker.
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 dread-locked dudes with white girls that’s like they going against what the dreadlock’s purpose was.” Seeing a personal insult in the remarks, 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. Common was accused of making bigoted statements during a concert at Emory University in 2006, when he rapped about his certainty that “damn niggers from Duke lacrosse” had raped a “black princess,” a reference to Crystal Gail Mangum, who had accused three white Duke University lacrosse players of rape. The charges were dismissed before the case went to trial. Despite his comments about the Duke Lacrosse Case, Duke University invited him to play at their last day of classes on 25 April 2007.
1992 Can I Borrow a Dollar?
1997 One Day It’ll All Make Sense
2000 Like Water for Chocolate
2002 Electric Circus
2007 Finding Forever
2007 Thisisme Then: The Best of
2009 Universal Mind Control
2002 Brown Sugar
2006 Dave Chapelle’s Block Party
2007 Smokin’ Aces
2007 American Gangster
2008 The Fast and the Furious
2008 Street Kings
2009 Justice League of America