Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known to the world as Common, was born on March 13, 1972, on the Southside of Chicago. He is a Grammy and Academy Award-winning actor and rapper who earned his stripes in the underground hip-hop scene in the ‘90s.
The rapper began to generate national attention when The Source included his 1992 track, “Take It EZ,” in their Unsigned Hype column. His critically acclaimed sophomore album, Resurrection, was released in 1994 and gave the rapper a much larger audience Beyond the city walls of his native Chicago. “I Used to Love H.E.R.”—a track off the album using “H.E.R.” as a euphemism for hip-hop—is considered to be a hip-hop classic.
The follow-up album, One Day It’ll Make Sense, was released in 1997 and included a wide array of collaborations that included Questlove, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Canibus, Cee-Lo Green, Black Thought, and De La Soul. It also included the nefarious track “The Bitch In Yoo” aimed at rapper Ice Cube and regarded as one of the greatest beef tracks in rap history. The buzz from the album resulted in a major label deal with Polydor Records. In 2000, Like Water for Chocolate would become Common’s major label debut which was executive produced by Questlove and featured production by J Dilla. The album was a critical success giving Common his first Grammy nomination for his single, “The Light.”
By the time Common released the highly anticipated Electric Circus in 2002, he had aligned himself heavily with the musical collective, Soulquarians. While the album was well-received by critics, it didn’t amount to a substantive commercial success.
As the rapper’s profile began to grow more as the years passed, Common teamed up with a fellow Chicago MC who was in the midst of his breakthrough success: Kanye West. Common signed to the rapper and producer’s music label G.O.O.D. Music and released Be in 2005. The album was his first to make the top five on the Billboard Charts and his second to be certified Gold.
In 2007, the rapper broke into the silver screen alongside Alicia Keys in Smokin’ Aces and has appeared in various films since then, including 2016’s Suicide Squad. In 2014, he co-wrote the theme song with John Legend, for Selma, a film he also appeared in. He received both a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song.