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Style & Culture

Trip Down Memory Lane: Conscious rap patriot Common has branched out

Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., better known as conscious rapper Common Sense, started his long career in music as a member of a high school rap trio by the name of C.D.R. alongside childhood friends Dion “No I.D.” Wilson and Corey Crawley. They achieved little success by opening for acts like N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane.

After high school, the group disbanded, and Common Sense decided to attend college. He studied business administration at Florida A&M University for two years before returning to hip-hop in 1992 with the release of the single “Take It EZ.”

The debut album by Common Sense was released in 1992. The album, titled “Can I Borrow a Dollar?” was produced by fellow C.D.R. member No I.D. and yielded three singles. The first single, “Take it EZ,” established Common as a clever lyricist by incorporating pop-culture, including references to Oprah, Ghostbusters and Spiderman. The album as a whole featured fast paced rhyming and tempo.

Common Sense’s next album was released a few years later in 1994, titled “Resurrection.” The album was his last release under the persona of Common Sense. After the release, he dropped “Sense” from his name and continued his career as “Common.” Much like his previous record, the album featured heavy production from No I.D. However, Common slowed his pace and incorporated more multi-syllabic rhyming into this record. The beginning track, “Resurrection,” featured lyrics like “But my brain was bleedin’, needin’ feedin’, and exercise / I didn’t seek the best of buys, it’s a lie to textualize / I analyze where I rest my eyes / And chastise the best of guys with punchlines.”

The album also featured the hit single, “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” where H.E.R. stands for “Hearing Every Rhyme.” The song itself is a metaphor for hip-hop and pokes fun at the West Coast gangsta rap movement. The song describes the decline in popularity of conscious rap in favor of gangsta rap. The song “I Used to Love H.E.R.” occurred in the beginning years of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry.

West Coast gangsta rap pioneer, Ice Cube, took the song to heart and began a feud with Common. Eventually, the feud between Common and Ice Cube died out, but the East Coast-West Coast rivalry continued to escalate until the unfortunate shootings of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.

Common has released a total of nine studio albums. His most recent album was released in 2011 under the title “The Dreamer/The Believer.” In recent years, he has branched out into acting, with roles in popular movies like “Smokin’ Aces” and “American Gangster.” In 2011, Common tried his hand in writing by publishing a memoir, titled “One Day It’ll All Make Sense.” Common also made contributions to Kanye West’s GOOD Music compilation album, “Cruel Summer,” that was released earlier this year.

As of right now, Common and rapper Nas are working on a collaboration album titled “Nas.Com.”