Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage nameCommon (and previously known as Common Sense), is a Two time Grammy-Award winning Americanhip 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 moderate commercial success. Its popularity was matched by 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 Finding Forever), his first Grammy was awarded in 2003 for Best R&B Song for Love Of My Life with Erykah Badu. His best-of album Thisisme Then was released on November 27, 2007. Common has also intiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, and American Gangster.
Common (originally Common Sense) was a highly influential figure in rap's underground during the '90s, keeping the sophisticated lyrical technique and flowing syncopations of jazz-rap alive in an era when commercial gangsta rap was threatening to obliterate everything in its path. His literate, intelligent, nimbly performed rhymes and political consciousness certainly didn't fit the fashions of the moment, but he was able to win a devoted cult audience. By the late '90s, a substantial underground movement had set about reviving the bohemian sensibility of alternative rap, and Common finally started to receive wider recognition as a creative force. Not only were his albums praised by critics, but he was able to sign with a major label that guaranteed him more exposure than ever before.
Common was born Lonnie Rashied Lynn on the South Side of Chicago, an area not exactly noted for its fertile hip-hop scene. Nonetheless, he honed his skills to the point where -- performing as Common Sense -- he was able to catch his first break, winning The Source magazine's Unsigned Hype contest. He debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ," which appeared on his Combat-released debut album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?; further singles "Breaker 1/9" and "Soul by the Pound" helped establish his reputation in the hip-hop underground, although some critics complained about the record's occasional misogynistic undertones. Common Sense subsequently wound up on Ruthless Records for his 1994 follow-up, Resurrection, which crystallized his reputation as one of the underground's best (and wordiest) lyricists. The track "I Used to Love H.E.R." attracted substantial notice for its clever allegory about rap's descent into commercially exploitative sex-and-violence subject matter, and even provoked a short-lived feud with Ice Cube. Subsequently, Common Sense was sued by a ska band of the same name, and was forced to shorten his own moniker to Common; he also relocated from Chicago to Brooklyn.
With his name popping up in all the right places, Common landed a major-label deal with MCA, and brought on Roots drummer ?uestlove as producer for his next project. Like Water for Chocolate was released in early 2000 and turned into something of a breakthrough success, attracting more attention than any Common album to date (partly because of MCA's greater promotional resources). Guests this time around included Macy Gray, MC Lyte, Cee-Lo, Mos Def, D'Angelo, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and Afro-beat star Femi Kuti (on a tribute to his legendary father Fela). Plus, the singles "The Sixth Sense" and "The Light" (the latter of which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance) earned considerable airplay. Following that success, Common set the stage for his next record with an appearance on Mary J. Blige's No More Drama in early 2002. He issued his most personal work to date with Electric Circus, a sprawling album that polarized fans, in December of that year. Be, a much tighter album that was produced primarily by Kanye West, followed in May 2005, netting four Grammy nominations. Also featuring extensive assistance from West, Finding Forever came out two years later. Steve Huey, All Music Guide