The education of Lonnie Lynn aka Common is one of learning the ways of Chicago’s windy streets to rhyming words on the shiny stages of the Academy Awards. The songs that have traveled this journey with him all share a common thread of detail, determination, and Dilla’gence.
As his career enters its fourth decade, few artists can match the level of prominence and relevance that Common has maintained. His music, founded in the styles of No I.D. and honed by J Dilla and Kanye West, has been the soundtrack for most of our lives.
Finally laying out the facts on some of his classics, VIBE got first-person accounts on notable and deep-cut tracks, from “I Used to Love H.E.R.” to “Star *69” to the Oscar-winning “Glory” with John Legend.
Stories of early beginnings, love, happiness, parenthood, and social justice mark a body of work that is much more than sonic gold. Much more than unconditional grooves and unshakable vibrations. His anecdotes and metaphors help preserve an earlier time, all the while guiding today and tomorrow. In the latest 3-part episode of our Then & Now series, Common shares the uncertainties and challenges behind the success, humanizing a body of work that most of us chalk up as lore.
Illustrations by Janice Ho (@blaqkcoral)
Bed Music by Tofu June (@tofu_june_)