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Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., is an American rapper, actor, and writer who has been a prominent figure in hip hop for over three decades. He has released numerous critically acclaimed albums, collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, and earned widespread praise for his socially conscious lyrics and powerful storytelling. In this article, we will take a look at the 10 best Common songs of all time. From his breakout hit “I Used To Love H.E.R.” to the soulful “The Light,” these tracks showcase Common’s range as an artist, his lyrical prowess, and his ability to connect with audiences on a deep and emotional level. Throughout his career, Common has used his music as a platform to address issues such as poverty, racism, and social injustice. His lyrics are a reflection of his personal experiences and his commitment to using his art to effect positive change in the world. Whether you are a long-time fan or a newcomer to his music, this article will serve as a guide to the best Common songs of all time. We will explore the stories behind each track, examining the themes and messages that underpin Common’s music and the impact it has had on the hip hop industry.
1. I Used To Love H.E.R. (1994)
“I Used to Love H.E.R.” is a classic hip-hop track from Common’s critically acclaimed 1994 album “Resurrection.” The song’s title is a play on words, with H.E.R. standing for “Hip-Hop in its Essence and Real.” Common personifies hip-hop as a woman, taking the listener through the different stages of the genre’s evolution, from its birth in the 1970s to its commercialization in the 1990s. The lyrics are cleverly written and showcase Common’s storytelling ability, as well as his love and respect for the culture of hip-hop. The beat, produced by No I.D., is smooth and mellow, built around a sample of “The Changing World” by George Benson.
2. The Corner ft The Last Poets (2005)
“The Corner” is a standout track from Common’s 2005 album “Be,” featuring legendary spoken word group The Last Poets. The song is a vivid portrayal of life on the streets of Chicago’s South Side, where Common grew up. The lyrics describe the daily struggles of poverty and violence, but also celebrate the resilience and strength of the people who live there. The beat, produced by Kanye West, is built around a sample of “You Make the Sun Shine” by The Temprees. The sample is used to create a soulful and melancholy backdrop for Common’s lyrics, and the addition of The Last Poets’ powerful spoken word adds an extra layer of depth and meaning to the track.
3. The 6th Sense ft Bilal (1999)
“The 6th Sense” is a classic hip-hop track from Common’s 1999 album “Like Water for Chocolate.” The song features soulful vocals from Bilal and an upbeat, jazzy production that perfectly complements Common’s introspective lyrics. The track is widely regarded as one of Common’s best songs, and it earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.
4. Rewind That (2014)
“Rewind That” is a standout track from Common’s 2014 album “Nobody’s Smiling.” The song features production from No I.D. and a sample from The Chi-Lites’ “Have You Seen Her.” The track sees Common reflecting on his past and the state of the world around him, with poignant lyrics about police brutality, poverty, and social injustice. The track is a powerful reminder of Common’s skill as a storyteller and his commitment to using his music to address important issues.
5. Resurrection (1994)
“Resurrection” is a classic hip-hop track by Common that was released in 1994 as the lead single from his album of the same name. The song is produced by No I.D., who uses a sample from “We Almost Lost Detroit” by Gil Scott-Heron. The beat features a jazzy piano loop, a head-nodding drum break, and a bassline that perfectly complements Common’s smooth flow. Lyrically, “Resurrection” is a celebration of hip-hop culture, as Common raps about the art of MCing and the importance of keeping the culture alive. The song’s catchy hook, which interpolates the chorus from “The Whole World is Watching” by the Staple Singers, has become a staple of Common’s live performances.
6. Ghetto Dreams ft Nas (2011)
“Ghetto Dreams” is a standout track from Common’s 2011 album “The Dreamer/The Believer.” The song features a guest verse from Nas and is produced by No I.D. and the late J Dilla. The beat is a sample-based masterpiece that combines a soulful vocal sample with a funky bassline and hard-hitting drums. Common and Nas trade verses about their experiences growing up in the inner city and their dreams of escaping poverty and achieving success. The chemistry between the two MCs is undeniable, and their back-and-forth flows make for an engaging listen. “Ghetto Dreams” is a testament to Common’s ability to craft socially conscious hip-hop that is both musically and lyrically impressive.
7. Retrospect For Life ft Lauryn Hill (1997)
“Retrospect For Life” is a heartfelt track featuring the iconic voice of Lauryn Hill. Common raps about the struggles of bringing a child into the world with an unexpected partner and the tough decisions that come with it. Hill’s soulful chorus and background vocals add depth and emotion to the song, making it one of the most memorable tracks on Common’s critically acclaimed album “One Day It’ll All Make Sense.” The beat, produced by James Poyser, is based on a sample from “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)” by The Four Tops, and features a prominent piano riff, with jazzy horns and guitar accents.
8. Sum Sh** I Wrote (1994)
“Sum Sh** I Wrote” is a standout track from Common’s debut album “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”. The song showcases Common’s smooth flow and lyrical skills, as he raps about his determination to succeed in the music industry. The beat, produced by No I.D., features a catchy bassline and samples from “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” by Barry White, which gives the track a nostalgic feel. The song is also notable for its use of humor, as Common raps about a range of topics, including his childhood crush on actress Phoebe Cates and his favorite fast food chain. Overall, “Sum Sh** I Wrote” is a fun and energetic track that captures the early career of one of hip hop’s most influential artists.
9. Gettin’ Down In The Ampitheater” ft De La Soul (1997)
“Gettin’ Down In The Amphitheater” is a collaboration between Common and De La Soul from the 1997 album “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”. The song features a laid-back beat and funky bassline, along with clever and humorous lyrics from both groups. The track is an ode to hip-hop culture and the joy of performing live, with the lyrics celebrating the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. The song’s chorus, “Gettin’ down in the amphitheater, hip-hop’s the savior”, emphasizes the important role that hip-hop plays in bringing people together and inspiring positive change.
10. The Light (2000)
“The Light” is a soulful and romantic track from Common’s 2000 album “Like Water for Chocolate”. The song features a sample from Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” and showcases Common’s smooth and introspective lyricism. The track tells a story of a man reflecting on his past relationships and realizing that he has found the love of his life in a woman who sees him for who he truly is. The song’s catchy hook, “It’s the way that you love me, it’s a feeling like this”, has become an iconic phrase in hip-hop and R&B.