Lonnie Rashied Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his
stage name Common (previously Common Sense), is an American hip hop
artist and actor.
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 tremendous commercial
success. His first Grammy award was in 2003 for Best R&B Song
for "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" with Erykah Badu.
Its popularity was matched by May 2005's Be, which was nominated
in the 2006 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album. Common was awarded
his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for "Southside" (featuring
Kanye West), from his July 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of
album Thisisme Then: The Best of Common was released on November
Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant
roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster,
Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, and Just Wright.
Lynn was born on Chicago's South Side. He is the son of educator
Dr. Mahila Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth
counselor Lonnie Lynn. They divorced when he was six years old, resulting
in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. This left him to be raised
by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and even
landed Lonnie Jr. a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teen years.
While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Lynn formed
C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts which included N.W.A. and
Big Daddy Kane.
Common attended Florida A&M University for two years under a
scholarship and majored in business administration. After being
featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine, Lynn
debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ" followed by
the album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under stage name Common Sense.
 Music career
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
In 1996, Common appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation
CD, America is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan,
and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD,
meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American
men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine.
He would later also contribute to the Red Hot Organization's Fela
Kuti tribute album, Red Hot and Riot in 2002. He collaborated with
Djelimady Tounkara on a remake of Kuti's track, "Years of Tears
 Feud with Westside Connection
The song "I Used to Love H.E.R." from Resurrection ignited
a feud with West Coast rap group Westside Connection. 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. Westside Connection first responded with
the 1995 song "Westside Slaughterhouse," with the lyrics "Used
to love H.E.R. mad cause I fucked her". Westside Connection
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 Westside Connection 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 an Orange County-based reggae band with the same
name, and was forced to shorten his moniker to simply Common.
 One Day It'll All Make Sense
Initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, Common finally
released his third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, in September
1997. The album took a total of two years to complete and included
collaborations with artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Q-Tip,
Canibus, Black Thought, Chantay Savage, and Questlove – 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)
Common addresses family ethics several times on One Day..., and
the album sleeve is decorated with old family photos, illustrating
the rapper's childhood, as well a quote from 1 Corinthians 13:11,
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
 Soulquarians era
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 Questlove) throughout 1999, and made a few sporadic guest
appearances on The Roots' Things Fall Apart, and the Rawkus Records
compilation, Soundbombing 2.
In 2000, his fourth album, Like Water for Chocolate, was released
to mass critical acclaim. Executive produced by Questlove 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.
Common at the Nokia Theatre Times Square, New York City.
 Electric Circus
The rapper's next album, Electric Circus was released in December
2002. It featured more experimental work with the Soulquarians, as
well as contributions from The Neptunes, Zap Mama, and Prince. The
album was something of a departure from Common's previous releases
(and indeed from Hip hop music), and featured Common rapping over
electric rock music, and electronica-influenced tracks. It received
polarizing reviews, with many critics praising it as a musical tour
de force and a visionary expansion of the Hip hop template, while
others criticized it for veering too far from accessibility and viewing
Common's role as secondary to the musicianship of the Soulquarians
(it should be noted that Common has himself stated that it was his
intention at the time to make an atypical hip hop record).
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 by 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.
 GOOD Music era
From the album Be
Problems listening to this file? See media help.
In early 2004, Common made an appearance on fellow Chicagoan Kanye
West's multi-platinum debut 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 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 favorite of West. 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 copies. 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.
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 dreadlocked
dudes with white girls that’s like they going against what
the dreadlock’s purpose was." 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.
 Finding Forever and Universal Mind Control
Performing at Store Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2007.
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 a recent interview (circa August 30, 2007) 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 Believer, for 2010.
The 8th 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 in Spring 2011.
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."
 Personal life
Common has a daughter, Omoye Assata Lynn (born 1997). He is
a Christian and has been a member of the Trinity United Church of
Christ in Chicago led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright since his childhood.
Following the controversy over one of Wright's sermons, Common criticized
the American news media's coverage of the incident as having "an
agenda." Common played the role of Alicia Keys's boyfriend
in the music video "Like You'll Never See Me Again." He
dated professional tennis player Serena Williams.
With both artists hailing from the Great Lakes region of the United
States (Chicago and Detroit, prospectively), 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 later lose his battle
with the rare disease). He is currently engaged to be married
to tennis great Serena Williams.
On February 12th, 2010, Common participated in the NBA’s All-Star
Celebrity Game, which took place during the NBA’s annual All-Star
Weekend. The game was played at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas,
TX. The game consisted of two teams; one representing the East,
and the other representing the West. Common played for the West.
The West’s assistant coach was fellow rapper, Drake. The
teams’ rosters included other celebrities from television,
movies, music, sports, as well as former NBA Legends. The game was
sponsored by the popular video game, Final Fantasy XIII. Common
arrived at the game late due to bad weather. Throughout the game,
Common displayed his basketball skills with good defending and strong
role-playing. The East won by a final score of 41-37.
On February 1st, 2011, for the second consecutive year, Common was
selected to participate in the NBA’s All-Star Celebrity Game.
The game will take place on Friday, February 18, 2011, at the Los
Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. Also participating
in the game will be fellow musician, Justin Bieber. The game will
be sponsored by banking company, BBVA.
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 2K8
in NBA Blacktop mode. In the fall of 2008, Common appeared in an
ad for Microsoft's Zune, comparing his new song, "Universal
Mind Control", to ,"Planet Rock", a song from hip
hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. As well as that he featured in the
Diesel campaign for a new fragrance called "Only The Brave".
His song "Be (intro)" is featured in a commercial for Blackberry
as of January 2011.
Common at 2009 Obama Home States Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009
As of the 29th of September 2008 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.
In December 2008, Common will launch a new clothing line in partnership
with Microsoft titled "Softwear", based on 1980s computing.
Common used to maintain 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 debut on the internet on February 2, 2008. Common
has pledged to stop using anti-gay lyrics in his music.
 Acting career
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".
In 2007, Common appeared with Ryan Reynolds, 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 January 20, 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. In 2008, he starred
in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted alongside Morgan
Freeman and Angelina Jolie; and was cast as the Green Lantern/John
Stewart in the live adaptaton of The Justice League. Common also
appeared in the movie Street Kings alongside Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie,
The Game, and Forest Whitaker. Common will also will be starring
in the 2010 upcoming movie Just Wright as a basketball player that
falls in love with his trainer Queen Latifah. He also appeared
in the 2009 film Terminator Salvation as John Connor's lieutenant
Barnes. His most recent film role was as a slightly corrupt cop
in the hit comedy Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey (2010)
Main articles: Common discography and List of Common songs
Year Album Label Notes
1992 Can I Borrow a Dollar? Relativity Records
1997 One Day It'll All Make Sense
2000 Like Water for Chocolate MCA Records
2002 Electric Circus
2005 Be GOOD
2007 Finding Forever
2008 Universal Mind Control
2011 (Winter) The Dreamer The Believer
Year Film Role Notes
2002 Brown Sugar Himself
2006 Dave Chapelle's Block Party Himself
2007 Smokin' Aces Sir Ivy
American Gangster Turner Lucas
2008 Street Kings Coates
Wanted The Gunsmith
2009 Wanted: Weapons of Fate Brummel video game voice
Terminator Salvation Barnes
Terminator Salvation Barnes video game voice
2010 Date Night Detective Collins
Just Wright Scott McKnight
 Awards and nominations
Awards Year Type Song or album Notes
BET Awards 2003 Video of the Year "Love of My Life (An Ode to
Viewer's Choice "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Best Collaboration "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2006 Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
BET Hip Hop Awards 2006 Element Award – Lyricist of the Year
Hip-Hop Video of the Year "Testify" Nominated
2007 Lyricist of the Year Won
CD of the Year Finding Forever Won
Best Hip Hop Video "The People" Nominated
Best Live Performance Nominated
MVP Of The Year Nominated
Black Reel Awards 2003 Best Film Song "Love of My Life (An Ode
to Hip-Hop)" Won
Grammy Awards 2001 Best Rap Solo Performance "The Light" Nominated
2003 Best Song Written for a Motion Picture/Television Movie "Love
of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Best R&B Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Won
Best Urban/Alternative Performance "Love of My Life (An Ode
to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
2006 Best Rap/Sung Collaboration "They Say" Nominated
Best Rap Album Be Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance Testify Nominated
Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group "The Corner" Nominated
2008 Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group "Southside" Won
Best Rap Album Finding Forever Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance "The People" Nominated
Image Awards 2006 Outstanding Duo or Group "Love of My Life
(An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Outstanding Song "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Outstanding Music Video "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" Nominated
Outstanding Music Video "Testify" Nominated
Outstanding Male Artist n/a Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards 2001 Best Hip-Hop Video "Geto Heaven
Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)" Nominated
2003 MTV2 Award "Come Close" Nominated
2005 Best Hip-Hop Video "Go" Nominated
2006 Best Hip-Hop Video "Testify" Nominated
Soul Train Awards 2006 Best R&B/Soul Single by a Duo or Group "Supastar" Nominated
Best Music Video "Testify" Nominated
Vibe Awards 2005 Reelest Video "The Corner" Nominated