March 13th – Common was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. in Chicago, Illinois, on this day in 1972.
Common, the son of retired NBA/ABA basketball player Lonnie Lynn Sr., began his career in music as a member of local Windy City rap group C.D.R., who opened up for such legendary hip-hop artists such as Big Daddy Kane and NWA.
After studying business administration at Florida A&M University in the early 1990′s, Common continued rapping and was featured in The Source Magazine’s “Unsigned Hype” column.
In 1992, Common released his first single as Common Sense called “Take It EZ” on Relativity Records.
His debut album, “Can I Borrow A Dollar?”, was released later that year. The album featured the underground hit singles; “Breaker 1/9” and “Soul By The Pound.”
Common would eventually drop “Sense” from his name and release eight more albums to date. Most notably, among these albums, are 1994′s “Resurrection”, which spawned the hit title track and “I Used To Love H.E.R.”, 2000′s “Like Water For Chocolate” which featured more smash hits like “The Light”, “The 6th Sense” (featuring Bilal) and “Geto Heaven Part Two”(featuring Macy Gray), 2002′s “Electric Circus” which contained
the classic “Come Close” (featuring Mary J. Blige), 2005′s “Be”, which featured productuion by Kanye West and hit singles “The Corner” (featuring The Last Poets), “Go!” (featuring Bilal and John Legend) and “Testify”, 2008′s Grammy nominated “Universal Mind Control” and 2011′s “The Dreamer/The Believer”, which featured
legendary poet Maya Angelou on the set’s opening track “The Dreamer.”
Throughout Common’s career he has also collaborated with a host of other artists including Nas, Prince, Lily Allen, Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo Green, The Roots, Jill Scott, Vinia Mojica, De La Soul, Pharell, long time production collaborator No I.D. and the late great J. Dilla just to name a mere few.
Common has also been a member of the Soulquarians musical collective whose members have included Raphael Saadiq, The Roots, D’Angelo, Mos Def and several of the above-mentioned names as well.
Common has had quite a prolific film career as well appearing in several movies like “Terminator Salvation”, “Brown Sugar”, “American Gangster”, “Street Kings” and “Date Night” to name a few.
Common currently appears on the AMC dramatic series “Hell On Wheels.”
Common has also worked as a model for The Gap, Diesel Cologne and BlackBerry.
Common has also won Grammy, Black Reel, BET and BET Hip-Hop Awards.
Common has also been involved in several business ventures including a clothing line he partnered with Microsoft called “Softwear.”
Common has also been involved in many charitable programs including projects on education, poverty, HIV/AIDS awareness and animal rights.
In 2011, Atria Books published his memoirs called “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”, whose title was taken from Common’s 1997 album of the same name.
Common, who was a huge public supporter of President Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, was also invited by the President in 2011 to read poetry at The White House.
Common has been one of the most politically active and socially conscious rappers in the history of hip-hop.