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Common

Born:  March 13, 1972

Birthplace:  Chicago, IL

Zodiac Sign:  Pisces

Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn aka Common (formerly Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor. Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained an underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians.

 

Common's first major-label album Like Water for Chocolate (2000) received commercial success. In 2003, he won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for the Erykah Badu single "Love of My Life". His 2005 album Be was also a commercial success and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Common received his second Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West), from his 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of album, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common, was released in late 2007. In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint. He had previously released music under various other labels including Relativity, Geffen, and GOOD Music.

 

Common won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song, for his song "Glory" from the 2014 film Selma, in which he co-starred as Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel. Common's acting career also includes roles in the films Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, New Year's Eve, Run All Night, Being Charlie, Rex, John Wick: Chapter 2 and Smallfoot. He also narrated the documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man's efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He starred as Elam Ferguson on the AMC western television series Hell on Wheels.

Common was born at the Chicago Osteopathic Hospital in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, the son of educator Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn Jr. He was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood. Lynn's parents divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. This left Lynn to be raised by his mother; however, his father remained active in his life, and was able to get Lynn a job with the Chicago Bulls as a teenager. While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Lynn, along with two of his friends formed C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts such as N.W.A and Big Daddy Kane.

 

Lynn attended Florida A&M University for two years under a scholarship and majored in business administration. After being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine, Lynn debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ", followed by the album Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under stage name Common Sense.

 

With the 1994 release of Resurrection, Common Sense 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 Sense's last album produced almost entirely by his long-time production partner, No I.D., who would later become a mentor to a young Kanye West.

 

In 1996, Common Sense appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, America Is Dying Slowly (A.I.D.S.), alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine. He would later also contribute to the Red Hot Organization's Fela Kuti tribute album, Red Hot and Riot in 2002. He collaborated with Djelimady Tounkara on a remake of Kuti's track, "Years of Tears and Sorrow".

The song "I Used to Love H.E.R." from Resurrection ignited a feud with West Coast rap group Westside Connection. The lyrics of the song criticized the path hip hop music was taking, utilizing a metaphor of a woman to convey hip hop and were interpreted by some as directing blame towards the popularity of West Coast gangsta rap. 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 Slaughterhouse" also mentioned Common Sense by name, prompting the rapper to respond with the scathing Pete Rock-produced attack song "The Bitch in Yoo". Common Sense and Westside Connection continued to insult each other back and forth before finally meeting with Louis Farrakhan and setting aside their dispute. Following the popularity of Resurrection, Common Sense was sued by an Orange County-based reggae band with the same name, and was forced to shorten his moniker to simply Common.

 

Initially scheduled for an October 1996 release, Common finally released his third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, in 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, Black Thought, Chantay Savage, and Questlove – a future fellow member of the Soulquarians outfit. The album, which made a point of eschewing any gangsterism (in response to questions about his musical integrity), 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.

 

As documented by hip-hop journalist Raquel Cepeda, in the liner notes for the album, this event had a profound spiritual and mental effect on Common and enabled him to grow musically while becoming more responsible as an artist.

In 2003, Common appeared on the American UPN sitcom Girlfriends. In the episode "Take This Poem and Call Me in the Morning", he appeared as Omar, a slam poet who competes with fellow poet Sivad (played by Saul Williams) for the affection of Lynn Searcy (played by Persia White). He also had a cameo appearance on an episode of UPN's One on One, where he played a drama class instructor named Darius. He also made an appearance on the ABC show Scrubs. In 2007, Common appeared with Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys in the crime film Smokin' Aces, making his big screen debut as villainous Mob enforcer Sir Ivy. He appeared alongside Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, The RZA and T.I. in the 2007 crime thriller American Gangster. On January 20, 2007, one week before the opening of Smokin Aces, he appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch as himself. The show's host was Piven, his Aces co-star.