Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #82 Common
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
A lot of people don't know this, but Common's been releasing albums since 1992. That's right. He had been releasing records for eight years before the "The Light" came out in 2000, which is when his career really began to soar. But, it's really his last two records, 2005's Be and 2007's Finding Forever that have made Common one of the most influential MCs this decade and rap as a whole.
We are pleased to announce Common as our 82nd most influential artist of the decade. Along with this title, I'd like to honor Common by listing my favorite song from each of his albums, from 1992 to the present.
Can I Borrow a Dollar? - 1992
If you're only familiar with present-day Common, this record will come as a surprise. Common raps a bit harder and faster above those old-school '90s beats. Listen to "Take it EZ" and notice the token record scratch/alternate vocal/preaching introduction to the track. There's a slight amount of humor that can be extracted from this song because of it's age, but it's still a really great song.
Resurrection - 1994
The best track from Resurrection would have to be the title track. I can't say much about the lyrics, which are delivered superbly, but don't really provide any inspirational content. However, No ID's production on this track provides one of the best transformations of old-school jazz into current hip-hop.
One Day It'll All Make Sense - 1997
Although I love "Invocation," particularly the jazzy guitar looping throughout, I have to say that "1, 2 Many" is the best track here, if only for it's lyrics. "One too many niggas got cars and no land. One too many niggas got cash and no plan," spits Common, criticizing those around him who seek a free lunch, but have no goals. It's not the best beat, but it's the most lyrically poignant track on the album.
Like Water For Chocolate - 2000
This is a tough one. Now, the brilliant and deeply missed J. Dilla produced all, but one track on the album. However, it is DJ Premier's track, "The 6th Sense," that was initially my favorite. The way he cuts the piano up into the rhthym and shines it like glass makes the song absolutely stunning. But, no matter how much I love this song, I always come back to "Ghetto Heaven." But, don't be fooled. Only on the first pressing of LWFC can you find the version with D'Angelo. Every other pressing contains a version with Macy Gray, which is definitely Common's worst collaboration. The original version is sways back and forth like a seaweed in the ocean. Common raps behind the beat and D'Angelo mutters the chorus, giving it a lazy feeling, but a stunningly emotive force above it all.
Electric Circus - 2002
This album was a departure from Common's usual mellow, conscious rap approach. It was relatively more rock than hip-hop and was difficult to digest, at first. If you listen to "Jimi Was a Rock Star," you would never guess that this was Common unless you knew already. But, listen to the best track, "The Hustle," a song in which Common returns to form with its thick, robotic bass line it along. It'll put the rest of the album into a better light.
Be - 2005
The album version of "The Food" is a good song. But, when Common rocked the song with Kanye West on The Chappelle Show, it was much harder with a slightly faster tempo, making its message come across much more effectively. There are tons of mp3s floating around the internet, but I've yet to find one with really good quality. Frankly, I wish Common and West would re-record that track.
Finding Forever - 2007
Kanye West took the production reigns on this album, which, of course, resulted in another incredible record in both artists' repertoires. However, J. Dilla's production on "So Far To Go," is undoubtedly Common and J. Dilla's best work. You can also find that beat on Dilla's The Shining.