Ghetto Dreams feat. Nas (2011) The Dreamer/The Believer
This track was the first single taken from Common’s most recent album, The Dreamer/The Believer. With No I.D. on production, he incorporated the hook from Nas’ song “Hope” as Common channelled the ideas of getting out of the hood and having a woman by his side while he strives for that dream.
Raw (How You Like It) (2011) The Dreamer/The Believer
Common gives us bars about getting down in the club as a dude disrespects the rapper, which leads to him to getting a bottle cracked over his head. The Chicago artist keeps it real showing what happens if you get out of hand with him.
Punch Drunk Love (2008) Universal Mind Control
From his Universal Mind Control album, Common got together with his label leader and fellow Chicagoean, Kanye West on this track, completing it with The Neptunes' production. The rapper gets pretty graphic while he talks about having plenty of sex with a girl.
Take It EZ (1992) Can I Borrow A Dollar?
Common Sense jumped onto the scene in 1992 with “Take It EZ”, his debut single from his debut album Can I Borrow A Dollar? This track is pretty “90s”, but here he even manages to spit some French, mention the McDonald’s menu and even gives Oprah a shout out.
I Used To Love H.E.R (1994) Resurrection
This classic joint is very much a favorite among many Common fans. The rapper spits about a girl he’s known since his childhood and seeing her change as an extended metaphor for hip hop music losing it afro-centricity and consciousness for its commercialization. H.E.R in the title actually stands for “Hearing Every Rhyme”.
Common showed his endless creativity in this track and his commitment to conscious rap. Whilst this joint attracted a diss track in response from Ice Cube titled, “The Bitch in You”, it has also been sampled and mentioned by many other rappers.
The Corner (2005) Be
A huge track in his discography, the Chicago artist raps about a notorious place in the darkest depths of the hood, the street corner. Common attracted a lot of popularity with this epic cut, which also featured the spoken word of The Last Poets. But a special mention has to go out to Kanye West who not only features on the track, but he also produced it as well as directing the video to it.
Many of his fans dubbed it as his return to his Resurrection days of 1994.
With John Legend on the hook, Common used this track to address all of his naysayers who complained that he had become a sell-out after becoming successful in the mainstream, and appearing in that Gap commercial.
The 6th Sense feat. Bilal (2000) Like Water For Chocolate
Borrowing samples off Mobb Deep on the chorus, Common Sense provided us with another deep and conscious song. Much of the wording of this track speaks heavily on wanting change, or a revolution as he often puts it. The skit at the end definitely stands out, where he is preaching to a female fan about the work he’s putting in to make things better for women as he turns around and slaps a prostitute he pimps for refusing to work her corner. Here he delivers some irony which makes hip hop fans do some real thinking.
Go (2005) Be
Common was said to have been inspired by John Mayer for this cut, who gave him the idea to write lyrics on sexual fantasies. Mayer and Yeezy both feature on the catchy chorus. Common does not hold back on letting us in on his choice fantasies as he mentions doing it in the bathroom, with the daughter of a pastor, bi-curious women and of course, a threesome.
Hungry (1997) One Day It'll All Make Sense
“Hungry” is considered by many to be some of Common’s best work to date. With No I.D on production, no hooks and just straight rhyming on an extended verse, he shows us why he made a big name for himself with his lyrical ability.
Retrospect For Life feat. Lauryn Hill (1997) One Day It'll All Make Sense
Throughout his career, Common has been one rapper that you can rely on to rap about some of the most realest situations. With Lauryn Hill on the hook, the rapper explored the perspectives and choice on the topic of abortion. The video for this track was directed by Hill herself whilst Common wrote this song in dedication to his first born son.
Southside feat. Kanye West (2007) Finding Forever
Kanye West no doubt played a huge role Common‘s career, frequently cropping up on his tracks, and aiding on production. Together Yeezy and Common went 5 verses back to back on this joint, repping hard for their native area, the South of Chicago.
One of the killer’s on Common’s Finding Forever album, he picked up the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group with this song.
The Light (2000) Like Water For Chocolate
Common gets a little mushy, but in style. Here he gives a deep confession of his feelings reminiscent of a love letter for his woman. Of course the woman in the rapper’s life at the time was none other than Erykah Badu, which is who Common had written this track about.
A Song For Assata (2000) Like Water For Chocolate
The Chi town rapper gives us a damn good history lesson through this track. The song is all about Assata Shakur, a member and activist of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. Fighting for freedom for African–Americans, she was caught up in the Turnpike Shooting and imprisoned for killing a State Trooper and assaulting another. She escaped from prison which has led her to live under political asylum in Cuba. Common gives us an excerpt from the time, paying homage to her after personally meeting her in Havana.
Chapter 13: (Rich Man vs. Poor Man) (1994) Resurrection
With Ynod, Common Sense balances out the virtues of making money. Ever the conscious man, the rapper gives us a life lesson when he tells us, “See I make money, money doesn't make me”.
All Night Long feat. Erykah Badu (1998) One Day It'll All Make Sense
Common gave us a track that is a definite head-nodder, which was no doubt thanks to the production from The Roots. With the rapper’s effortless flow on the verses, the track is made complete by having Erykah Badu’s flavor-full sound on the hook.
Testify (2005) Be
Here, Common cleverly tells the tale of woman’s anguish at her husband being accused of killing a man in court. Endlessly questioned, she proclaims that she knows nothing of her man’s actions.
The verdict is eventually revealed with the woman walking away happy from the sentencing of her husband who she has framed, manipulating the system.
The rapper’s uses his typical storytelling mode leaving us a bombshell in the final verse. The video also features Taraji. P Henson who Common was rumoured to have dated.
Resurrection (1995) Resurrection
Back to some of his earlier work, Common raps over a piano-led beat produced by No I.D who incorporates a number of samples. This track is a good example of the rapper’s distinct style in the 1990s with his poetry-style rap, complete with extensive verses and filled with puns.
The Believer feat. John Legend (2011) The Dreamer/The Believer
With the glorious vocals of John Legend, Common brought us this very uplifting, positive track asserting us all to believe and follow our dreams.
Dooinit (2000) Like Water For Chocolates
The rapper brings us some hard fighting talk here, as he addresses his competition. J Dilla puts in the work on production as Common criticizes those in hip hop who are quick to jump on the bandwagon set up by other rappers, in particular those who tried to follow the trends of gangsta rappers after the emergence of 2 Pac and Snoop Dogg.
Everywhere (2009) Universal Mind Control
From his Universal Mind Control album, Common grabbed this track showing his exceptional ability to be versatile as he gives a fitting verse on this more dance-driven and experimental beat.
We celebrate Common's birthday by giving you 21 dope tracks from his discography.
Today, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr, known to us as Common, turns 42 years old. He is one of the finest talents to come of out of the state of Chicago, having produced 29 singles and 9 studio albums across a career that spans the twenty-two years.
The Chi-Town rapper is no ordinary hip hop artist. Common is known for his impressive lyricism, Afrocentric approach as well as being a conscious rapper. He has not been afraid to keep it real, highlighting the changing faces of hip hop, issues affecting the black community as well as giving us his unique expressions over love, money, and much more. More than just a rapper, Common has also proved he is talented in the acting world, having starred in many movies including Wanted, Street King and Just Wright.