Name:
Common
Birth Date:
1972/3/13
Birth Place:
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height:
6' 1˝''
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
His work with fellow superstar Kanye West on his 2005 album, Be.
Profession:
Actor, Rapper
Education:
Florida A&M University (dropped out)
BIOGRAPHY
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Finding Forever

Background:

First performing as part of the trio rap group CDR, two-time Grammy Award-winning rapper and film actor Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., became a significant force in the underground scene during the 1990s with his first three albums, “Can I Borrow a Dollar” (1992), “Resurrection” (1994) and “One Day It'll All Make Sense” (1997), as well as his popular singles like “Take It EZ,” “Soul by the Pound” and “Used to Love H.E.R.” However, it was “Like Water for Chocolate” (2000), his first major label album, that launched one of hip-hop’s most poetic and appreciated lyricists to mainstream fame. Marking Common’s first collaboration with the Soulquarian and MCA Records, “Like Water for Chocolate” received extensive critical approval and gave Common his first gold status as well as his first Grammy nomination thanks to the single “The Light.” Common’s profile continued to increase when he successfully took home a 2003 Grammy Award for “Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” a duet sang with ex-lover Erykah Badu for the movie “Brown Sugar.”

“Man, I would love to get another Grammy. It’s always good to be honored. We don’t make music or movies to get the awards, but any honor feels good when people give you awards and when the critics say the material’s good. But I guess the true test of an artist is that when they don’t say it’s good, you gotta keep going, and continue to do what you believe.” Common

Previously known as Common Sense, the hip hop artist is perhaps best-recalled for his partnership with fellow Chicago native and rap music megastar Kanye West. The “Be” album (2005) nabbed four Grammy nominations, including Best Rap Album, and gave Common his next gold certification. “Finding Forever” (2007), Common’s second vehicle with West as producer, rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 200 and won the rapper his subsequent Grammy Award via the single “Southside.”

Adding to his success, Common embarked on an acting career in 2003. His film credits include “Smokin' Aces” (2006, as Sir Ivy), “American Gangster” (2007), “Street Kings” (2008), “Wanted” (2008) and “Terminator Salvation” (2009). He has also appeared in such TV series as “Girlfriends” and “One on One.”

Common is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, which is devoted to the management and improvement of urban youth in America. He has his own hat line collection called Soji. He said, “I love hats, man. I been wearing them for so long and people always ask me where I get my hats from so why not just design something?”

A multi-talented artist, Common wrote the children's books “The Mirror and Me,” “I Like You but I Love Me” and “M.E. (Mixed Emotions).” “I Like You but I Love Me” netted an NAACP Image nomination.

Common is the father of a young girl, Omoye Assata Lynn. He dated Erykah Badu from 2000 to 2003. He has also been linked to singer/actress Alicia Keys and actress Taraji P. Henson.


CDR

Childhood and Family:

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., who would later be popular as Common, was born on March 13, 1972, in Chicago, Illinois, to Dr. Mahila Ann Hines, a pedagogue, and Lonnie Lynn, a former NBA basketball player turned youth counselor. His parents divorced when Common was six years old. Although he lived with his mother, Common stayed close to his father. Thanks to Lonnie's help, the teen aspiring athlete got a job with the Chicago Bulls.

Common attended Luther High School South in Chicago. It was during that same period that he discovered his love for hip hop and rap and finally formed the rap trio CDR. Despite the group's initial success as an opening act for artists like Big Daddy Kane and N.W.A., he decided to quit when he attended Florida A&M University. Majoring in business administration, Common later dropped out to chase a career in music.

In 1997, Common welcomed his first child, daughter Omoye Assata Lynn. He was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, but later converted to Islam.


Smokin' Aces

Career:

An aspiring rap star since high school, Common left his rap group to attend college, but he never stopped honing in on his skills as an MC. His first break came when the Florida A&M University drop-out became the winner of The Source magazine's “Unsigned Hype” competition in 1991 after a friend sent in a tape of him rapping. He was then signed to Relativity Records and released his debut single in 1992 called “Take It EZ.” The song became a Top 5 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and gave Common, then known as Common Sense, significant notice on the underground circuit.

Common's debut album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar,” followed on October 6, 1992. Produced by No I.D. (then called Immenslope), The Beatnuts and Twilite Tone, the album rose to No. 70 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Albums in 1993. In addition to containing the hit first single “Take It EZ,” it also spawned the singles “Breaker 1/9” (1993) and “Soul by the Pound” (1993), which peaked at No. 10 and No. 7 on the Hot Rap Tracks, respectively.

The Chicago native resurfaced in 1994 with the album “Resurrection,” which was also produced entirely by No I.D. The album received a great deal of critical acclaim and cemented Common's reputation as one of the underground's best lyricists. Later, in 1998, it was included on The Source magazines' list of “100 Best Rap Albums.” The track “Used to Love H.E.R.,” (#31 on the Hot Rap Tracks) brought Common significant notice and has since become one of his best known songs. Around that same period, Common was forced to eliminate “Sense” from his name after a lawsuit from a band of the same name.

On September 30, 1997, Common released the album “One Day It'll All Make Sense,” for which the energetic rapper collaborated with a number of hip hop stars like Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Cee-Lo, and the Roots' Black Thought. The album received primarily positive reviews from critics, but was considered a commercial flop. It only sold 250,000 copies and rose to No. 62 on the Billboard 200. Some felt the failure was caused by producer No I.D's scaled down contribution.

For the next two years, Common made guest appearances on other artist's work. He appeared on Pete Rock's “Soul Survivor” (1998), Mos Def and Talib Kweli's “Black Star” (1998) and the Roots' “Things Fall Apart” (1999). He also recorded the song “1-9-9-9” with Sadat X and it was included on the indie rap kingpins Rawkus Records compilation, “Soundbombing 2.” The song became a rap hit in 1999.

However, it was the critical success of “One Day It'll All Make Sense” that landed Common a major label contract with MCA Records in 1999. Subsequently, he left Chicago for New York City and started working almost exclusively with the Soulquarian.

“Like Water for Chocolate,” Common's first album with MCA Records, was released on March 28, 2000, to respectable critical praise and went on to become his commercial breakthrough. The album rose to No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 200, No. 5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and went gold within five months of its initial release. The second single, “The Light,” produced by Jay Dee, peaked at No. 12 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and was nominated for a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Other rap hits spawned from the album were the by DJ Premier-produced “The 6th Sense” (#14 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) and “Geto Heaven Part Two.” The video of “Geto Heaven Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)” received a MTV Video Music nomination for Best Hip-Hop Video.

Common again worked with the Soulquarians for his next album, “Electric Circus,” which features combinations of various genres like hip hop, pop, rock, electronic, and neo soul. Released on December 10, 2002, the album enjoyed less commercial success than its predecessor and marked Common's last partnership with MCA Records. The song “Come Close,” featuring guest vocals by Mary J. Blige and produced by Chad Hugo and Pharrell's production team, The Neptunes, peaked at No. 65 on Billboard's Hot 100 and was the only single to make an appearance on the national music chart. The video received a MTV Video Music nomination for the MTV2 Award.

Common bounced back the following year with “Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” which won a Grammy for Best R&B Song and was nominated for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture/Television Movie and Best Urban/Alternative Performance. He recorded the song with then girlfriend Erykah Badu for the soundtrack to the motion picture “Brown Sugar” (2002), starring Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan and Mos Def. “Love of My life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)” also won a Black Reel for Best Film Song, a BET for Video of the Year and several other nominations, including three Image nominations for Outstanding Song, Outstanding Duo or Group and Outstanding Music.

After the success, Common made an appearance on the Kanye West multi-platinum debut album “The College Dropout” (2004) on the song “Get Em High,” which also features Talib Kweli. Shortly thereafter, he was signed to G.O.O.D. Music, a newly established hip hop and R&B record label founded by West.

With Kanye West primarily serving as producer, Common launched his sixth studio album, “Be,” on May 24, 2005. The collaboration proved fruitful when “Be” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in 2005 and 2006. The album also became his first Top 10 hit in Canada and brought Common the second gold record of his career. “Be” received a 2006 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album and Common was named the Lyricist of the Year at the 2006 BET Hip Hop Awards. The lead single, “The Corner,” which featured a chorus and production by West and spoken word lyrics by The Last Poets, netted a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and the third single “Testify” was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Solo Performance. Common also received an additional Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for the single “They Say,” which he performed with West and John Legend.

Common gained even more recognition and acclaim with “Finding Forever,” his second album with Kanye West. Released on July 31, 2007, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and also became chart-topper at the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and the Top Rap Albums charts. Selling more than 500,000 units in the U.S., “Finding Forever” was certified gold on October 25, 2007, and brought Common his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group thanks to the single “Southside,” featuring Kanye West. The album also received two Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Solo Performance (for the song “The People,” (featuring Dwele) and won two BET Hip Hop awards in the categories of Lyricist of the Year and CD of the Year. His best-of album, “Thisisme Then,” was released on November 27, 2007.

Common’s new album, “Universal Mind Control,” was launched on December 9, 2008. It peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard 200, No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No.1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums.

In addition to his impressive career on the hip hop circuits, Common has been an occasional actor since 2003. Making his debut in an episode of the hit UPN sitcom “Girlfriends,” playing a slam poet named Omar, he next appeared as Darius, a drama class instructor, on one episode of UPN's “One on One” in 2004. He moved to the big screen two years later with “Smokin' Aces,” opposite Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys. In 2007, Common teamed up with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe for Ridley Scott's “American Gangster,” playing Turner Lucas.

Recently appearing with Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans and Cedric the Entertainer in “Street Kings” and with James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie in “Wanted” (both 2008), Common is set to play roles in “Terminator Salvation” (2009), starring Christian Bale, and “Justice League: Mortal” (2011), opposite Adam Brody, Teresa Palmer and D.J. Cotrona.


Awards:

  • Grammy: Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group, “Southside,” 2008

  • BET Hip Hop: Lyricist of the Year, 2007

  • BET Hip Hop: CD of the Year, “Finding Forever,” 2007

  • BET Hip Hop: Element Award- Lyricist of the Year, 2006

  • Grammy: Best R&B Song, “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” 2003

  • BET: Video of the Year, “Love of My Life (Ode to Hip-Hop),” 2003

  • Black Reel: Best Film Song, “Brown Sugar,” for the song “Love of My Life (Ode to Hip-Hop),” 2003

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