[COMMENTARY] “A Complex Man”: THHP Celebrates 20+ Years of Common’s Legacy

COMMON 001_mix cover“A complex man, drawn off of simplicity.” – Common

If there were ever a lyric of Common’s that wholly epitomized the entirety of his influence within the infrastructure of hip-hop and the culture that accompanies it, look no further than the one above. In fact, the premise that Common’s musical vocation has ultimately been constructed around that unmistakably authentic lyric, makes complete sense.

Chicago, Illinois: The city that Common (born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) was birthed in, raised in, and proudly represents with every breath. A city abundant with dynamic chaos, contrasting culture, and luminous personality. Yet, among the myriad of decorative character, invariably remains a presence of distinguished compassion, and wholesome sincerity.

Exemplified most in the people of the city, Chicago is multidimensional and prideful of its rich tradition, but always grounded by its authenticity. If Common and his music have indeed been complexly drawn off of simplicity, it was certainly inherited from the complex city of Chicago, which itself was vehemently drawn off of simplicity.

In virtue of his first album, Can I Borrow A Dollar?, leading to his second release, Resurrection, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last month (10/25), and into his subsequent project, Like Water For Chocolate, in which the preceding lyric resides on, Common’s badge of authenticity had immediately and profoundly been presented to the masses upon his incipient musical endeavors. Spanning over a duration of twenty-two years, Common would go on to release seven more albums, never once straying from the purity that commenced his illustrious career.

The pedigree of hip-hop icons that Common was both influenced by and in turn rendered influence onto, is largely unmatched by the majority of those entrenched in the hip-hop atmosphere. From No I.D., to J Dilla, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Questlove, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kanye West, among countless others, Common’s lineage is perpetually extraordinary.

From a geographical significance, there is no more important of a hip-hop relationship to the city of Chicago, than that of Common and Kanye West’s. Banded by their counterparts, the two would go on to work together on a multitude of projects. Through similar influences, and a mutually genuine affinity for their Midwest roots, the two icons would ascend each other to certain levels of creativity that would not be possible without one another’s incitement. Common’s receptiveness to conceptualizing with Kanye, was an inadvertent blessing of approval from the king of Chicago upon it’s budding prince.

As detailed throughout his catalogue, Common’s remarkable career is one of monumental affiliations, credibility, and prosperity. What makes him so inviting and renowned though, is that in sequence with his accolades and notoriety, he never once lost touch with an element that has distinctively led to his achievements: Integrity.

Among all of the conversation amid the hip-hop landscape, a question that isn’t offered up very regularly is: Who is the most important hip-hop artist to ever represent the city of Chicago?

By way of his humbling hometown, his conjunction of luminaries, an impeccable twenty-two year catalogue, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the substantial acknowledgment bestowed upon him, the answer to that question is none other than CommonAn extraordinary career, affluent with unrivaled accomplishment, yet merely just a complex man, drawn off of simplicity. – Michael Blair [@senseiscommon]



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