"I can joke and play these roles and show my sense of humor and talk about dealing with the world and society and spirituality."
Common - anything but common
The articulate, accomplished businessman who promotes PETA and HIV/AIDS awareness is one of the top earning hip hop artists in the United States. His sophisticated jazz-rap survived gangsta rap throughout the 90's and continues to evolve as the artist himself matures and refines his view of life and his hip-hop style.
Born on March 13, 1972 in Chicago, Illinois to accomplished parents, Dr. Mahila Ann Hines and Lonnie Lynn (former ABA basketball player) was named Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. but called Rashid. Although his parents divorced when he was six they both remained supportive of their son. As a teenager Rashid was involved in both sports and music. He worked for the Chicago Bulls and was part of the rap trio, C.D.R., which opened for headliners Big Daddy Kane and N.W.A.
Common - Chicago's south side boy
On a scholarship Rashid went to Florida A&M University where he majored in business administration and continued rapping. At age twenty Rashid released his first single Take It EZ under the stage name Common Sense. That same year his first album, Can I Borrow a Dollar was released and received a positive local reception. It also gained the attention of the ska band already performing as Common Sense and Rashid has to shorten his stage name to Common.
It was his second album, Resurrection, that gained him critical acclaim and an underground following that remained loyal for the ten years his music went against the grain of the more predominant gangsta rap style.
Building a baseline
The September 1997 release of this third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, led to a contract with major label MCA Records. In the liner notes of the album Common states that becoming a father changed his mental and spiritual direction and motivated him to become a more socially responsible rapper. His participation in intelligent hip-hop that contained literate, political conscious rhymes won him an even broader following when he moved to New York City where he frequently collaborated with the Soulquarians throughout 1999.
2000 was the year of Common's breakthrough in to the mainstream with his fourth album Like Water for Chocolate. The popular single The Light garnered a Grammy nomination and the album went on to become the artist's first gold album. Considered a "cred" rapper Common has collaborated with Kanye West, De La Soul, Canibus, Questlove and many other popular artists on their productions.
Electric Circus was Common's intentional atypical hip hop record that met sharply divided response in 2002 and did not sell well. The following year brought Common his first Grammy for his part on Erykah Badu's Love of My Life but it was not until May of 2005 and the release of his sixth album, Be, that he revived his individual career with reviews from critics ranging from 4.5 to 5 stars. Go and The Corner were the outstanding singles from the album that became his second gold.
The signing with Kanye West's GOOD Music label in 2004 was the beginning of a long and rewarding affiliation between the two friends. Finding Forever came out in 2007 which went to #1 on the Billboard 200 and Common won the 2008 Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his single Southside.
The addition of a successful acting career to Common's activities has not stopped his music although the release of Universal Mind Control was delayed a few months due to the filming of Wanted in 2008. Until 2007 his film activity involved the usual music videos and urban themed documentaries. Smokin' Aces was his first venture into dramatic films and was followed with a quick succession of supporting roles in Wanted, American Gangster, Street Kings, and Terminator Salvation through 2009.
Release of his latest album, The Believer, is expected in 2010.
Did you know that...
- ...he featured in Obama support video Yes We Can
- ...Rashid is a vegan
- ...will be in two movies, Date Night and Just Wright, in 2010