Hip Hop Wiki

Birth name

Lonnie Rashid Lynn

Also known as

Common Sense


March 13, 1972 (1972-03-13) (age 52)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.


Hip hop


Rapper, actor

Years active



Think Common, Warner Bros., GOOD Music

Associated acts

August Greene, Cocaine 80s, J Dilla, No I.D., Soulquarians, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams

Lonnie Rashid Lynn (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage name Common (formerly Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor from Chicago, Illinois. Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 1990s, 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 tremendous commercial success. His first Grammy award was in 2003 for Best R&B Song for "Love of my Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" with Erykah Badu. Its popularity was matched by May 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" with Kanye West, from his 2007 album Finding Forever. His latest album, Let Love, was released in 2019.

Common won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2015 for "Glory" from the 2014 film Selma, in which he co-starred as Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel. Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring in significant roles in films such as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, and New Year's Eve. He also narrated the award-winning documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man's efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He starred in the AMC western television series Hell on Wheels.

Early life[]

Common was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. in Chicago's South Side on the 13th of March 1972. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. His parents divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. This left Common to be raised by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and landed Lonnie Jr. a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teens. While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Common, with his childhood friends, record producer No I.D., and Corey Crawley formed a rap trio called C.D.R., that opened for acts that included N.W.A and Big Daddy Kane. Common attended Florida A&M University for two years under a scholarship and majored in business administration. 

Music career[]

1991-1996: Career beginnings and feud with Westside Connection[]

After being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine, Common was signed to Relativity Records in December 1991. He debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ", followed by the album Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under the stage name Common Sense.

With the release of Resurrection in 1994, Common achieved a much larger degree of critical acclaim, which extended beyond Chicago natives. The album sold relatively well and received a strong positive reaction among alternative and underground hip hop fans at the time. Resurrection was Common's last album produced entirely by his long-time production partner, No I.D., who was also the then-mentor of a young Kanye West. This album was also the last album released under the stage name Common Sense because he was sued by an Orange County-based reggae band with the same name and he was forced to shorten his moniker to simply Common.

The song "I Used to Love H.E.R." from Resurrection ignited a feud with West Coast hip hop group Westside Connection. The lyrics of the song criticized the path hip hop music was taking and was interpreted by some as directing blame towards the popularity of gangsta rap, which was the leading subgenre on the West Coast at the time. Westside Connection first responded with the 1995 song "Westside Slaughterhouse", with the lyrics "Used to love H.E.R. mad cause I fucked her". Westside Connection recorded songs venting their issues with rival East Coast rappers (see East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry). "Westside Slaughterhouse" also mentioned Common by name, prompting the rapper to respond with the scathing Pete Rock-produced song "The Bitch in Yoo". Common and Westside Connection continued to diss each other back and forth before finally meeting with Louis Farrakhan and setting aside their dispute.

1997-1998: One Day It'll All Make Sense[]

Although initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, Common's third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, was released on September 1997. The album took a total of two years to complete and included collaborations with artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Q-Tip, Canibus, Hlack Thought and Questlove. The album, which made a point of avoiding use of any gangsterism, was critically acclaimed and led to a major-label contract with MCA Records. In addition to releasing One Day, Common's first child, daughter Omoye Assata Lynn, was born shortly after the release of the album. Thus, Common addresses family ethics several times on One Day, and the album sleeve is decorated with old family photos, illustrating the rapper's childhood.

1999-2003: Soulquarians era[]

Following the release of One Days and signing a major label record deal with MCA Records, Common relocated from Chicago to New York City in 1999. He began recording almost exclusively with a loose collective of musicians and artists (dubbed the "Soulquarians" by central figure Questlove) throughout 1999 and made a few sporadic guest appearances on The RootsThings Fall Apart, and the Rawkus Records compilation Soundbombing II.

In 2000, his fourth album, Like Water for Chocolate, was released to mass critical acclaim. Executive produced by Questlove and featuring significant production contributions by J DillaLike Water for Chocolate transpired to be a considerable commercial breakthrough for Common, earning the rapper his first gold record and greatly expanding his fanbase among critics and listeners alike. The album saw Common exploring themes musically and lyrically, which were uncommon for a hip hop record, as he does on the song "Time Travelin' (A Tribute to Fela)"; a homage to Nigerian music legend, and political activist Fela Kuti. The most popular song from the album, the J Dilla-produced single "The Light", was nominated for a Grammy Award.

With both artists hailing from the Great Lakes region of the United States (Chicago and Detroit, prospectively), Common and J Dilla established their musical chemistry early on. Both became members of the Soulquarians collective, and collaborated on numerous projects together, even placing one song, "Thelonius", on both the Slum Village album Fantastic, Vol. 2, and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. As Dilla's health began to decline from the effects of Lupus Nephritis, he relocated to Los Angeles and asked Common to make the move with him as a roommate. However, J Dilla would later lose his battle with the rare disease and passed away in 2006. "Rewind That", from Common's 2014 album Nobody's Smiling, is about his friendship with Dilla. 

In 2002, Common released his fifth album, Electric Circus. The album was highly anticipated merged genres hip hop, pop, rock, electronic and neo-soul. It was not as commercially successful as his previous album and divided critics with its ambitious style. It was Common's second and final album for MCA, and the label's final release prior to its absorption into Geffen Records. 

2004-2011: GOOD Music era[]

In early 2004, Common made an appearance on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West's multi-platinum debut album, The College Dropout, and announced his signing to West's label GOOD Music. West had been a longtime fan of Common and had been mentored by Common's producer No I.D. early in his musical career. West and Common had even participated in a friendly on-air MC battle, where West took jabs at Common for "going soft" and wearing crochet pants (as he does for his appearance in the video for Mary J. Blige's "Dance for Me"). The pair worked together on Common's album Be, almost entirely produced by West, with two songs produced by J Dilla - also a favorite of West. The album was released on May 2005, and performed very well, boosted by West's involvement and the singles "The Corner" and "GO!". Be earned Common the second gold record of his career, with sales reaching 800,000 copies. The Source magazine gave it a near-perfect 4.5 mic rating, XXL magazine gave it their highest rating of "XXL", and AllHipHop gave the album 4 stars. The album was also nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2006 but won none. 

Common's seventh album, Finding Forever, was released in 2007. For this album, he continued his work with Kanye West, as well as producers will.i.am, Devo Springsteen, Derrick Hodge, Karriem Riggins, and J Dilla. The album features guest appearances from Dwele, Bilal, D'Angelo, and Lily Allen. West predicted that Finding Forever would win the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album but, although it was nominated, the award went to West's Graduation. However, Common did win his second Grammy for "Southside", which won the 2008 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. 

The Dreamer/The Believer and Think Common Ent.[]

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2014: Nobody's Smiling[]

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Studio albums[]