Living in Chicago, Common Sense is someone I, as well as many others, recognize as a key breakthrough act for the city. Certainly there had been other records from or representing Chicago before him; Casper the Groovy Ghost (1980), His Majesti (1988), and several others, but he was really the first to make a strong national impact*, particularly with '94s Resurrection album, and have people curious about what type of scene was going on in Chicago.
I remember going to New York in '94, right before "Resurrection" dropped**. It was surprising even that late in the game, people in New York were surprised to meet Hip Hop People from Chicago. I continually had people say, "They have Hip Hop in Chicago?!?!?" Like it would be surprising for Hip Hop to be thriving in one of the largest and most diverse cities in this Country, 20 years after the birth of Hip Hop none-the-less. They only saving graces for them being able to believe it was possible were the only two reference points they could manage to conjure; 1)DJ Tone B Nimble of All Natural competing in the New Music Seminar DJ Battle the year before and do a trick of taking off his shirt while doing his routine and 2)Common Sense... mainly his latest 12", "Soul By The Pound" Remix, which they thought was "alright" or "cool".
Obviously, not long after "Resurrection" was released and went on to critical and cultural acclaim, as well as, regarded by many as a Hip Hop classic. It was loved from the East to the West Coast and beyond, despite the response from Ice Cube and his Westside Connection companions. He followed up with a string of strong successful and/or experimental albums. All the while pushing the limits of himself as a writer, growing as an artist, and taking a voyage towards a more conscious lifestyle, which was also reflected in his music.
Although Common continued to rise in popularity and profile, he always remained true to his strengths, which ultimately are key things that made the underground love him; well written lyrics and his natural ability to freestyle. So many artists tend to leave those things behind or let those original skills that helped them grow slowly fade away in the interest of pleasing the masses. Not Common. He was also eventually able to parlay his talents into a successful acting career that is still growing, currently about to star in a new HBO Western Series, "Hell On Wheels".
All of this made me interested to check out his, excellently named, "One Day It Will All Make Sense" Auto-Biography. Pulling the title from his 3rd album which was able to be perfectly used twice now. For that original album it represented the first time he couldn't legally use his full stage name, Common Sense so the title hinted towards it, as well as other things. Here with the book, the title serves as a great quote that represents all of our lives as we make these journeys and struggle to make it all make sense...
Truthfully, I have not read the complete book yet. I've been meaning to pick it up, but haven't had the time. However, this past weekend I was waiting for some car work and stepped over to a book store and decided to flip thru it. It looked really good and definitely convinced me that I needed to pick it up, something I'm finally doing today.
I'm not generally in the business of writing about a book or CD before experiencing it in full, but my brief look at it makes me feel comfortable to suggest it as a worth while read. However, I admit that isn't my main motivation for jumping to write this. While flipping thru I stumbled upon a section that I was definitely interested in. It was about his song "I Used To Love H.E.R" and how it ultimately lead to his beef with Ice Cube. I have a personal investment in that story and I didn't really expect him to give me any credit or anything because I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know me by name/face recognition. I "met" Common 6 or 7 times between '92-'97 and it never seemed to click with him who I was and that was fine, he had a line in one of his songs that suggested he wasn't all that good with remembering people, so he had pre-apologized sort of...ha. I'm also don't consider myself a spotlight hound. I don't do things because I want the credit. I simply act off my passions and do what seems to be right at the time.
However, the way that section played out originally felt like a rewriting of history, but now that I've had time to marinate on it, I suppose it's closer to a incomplete view of the history. Being that my company and life goals are based on the theory of RedefineHipHop, meaning to make sure Hip Hop History is properly and accurately recorded and dictated by those who did it, when I read this particular part of the book I felt I should comment on it. Even more so because I recently wrote a article for the FE Blog giving my version of this story, before I even knew he had a book coming out, and it details the whole Common VS Cube beef. Read that HERE
In the book Common recalls when he first heard that Ice Cube had dissed him. He credits getting the information from King Tee while in LA. However, I was the one that gave him actual tape with the Ice Cube diss on it. To be fair, I'm not suggesting that Common purposely did this. To reiterate, I also am sure he doesn't know who I am, so he probably wasn't going to reference that story between me and him in any great detail. Also, in addition to that it's possibly that both stories are true, it's just that when he only tells that part of the story it could make my story seem untrue. I would be less concerned with it if I hadn't put my version of the story out there previous to this and could lead people to think I fabricated it.
Basically, when I approached Common on that day when I had first heard the Ice Cube diss, I asked him if he had heard that Ice Cube had dissed him. He said that he had heard "rumors", but not the actual diss. It's quite possible that King Tee was the person he heard the "rumor" from. Common asked me what Ice Cube said about him and I told him all I could remember was calling him a "Pu**y Wimp B**ch" and he just laughed. Then we walked to my car, talked about his possibility of a response and then I gave him the tape with the diss on it and told him he could keep it. The next time I saw Common, he was performing "The Bitch In Yoo" acapella at The Cubby Bear in Chicago at a De La Soul/Camp Lo show. That full story is in that previous article I mentioned HERE.
Honestly, it's not that huge of a deal. It would be even less of a deal if this wasn't the second time I had a similar experience like that with Common. Back in '94, around this same time, I started a Hip Hop magazine called Caught In The Middle with my partner J-Bird. For our first issue we decided to put Common Sense on the cover. It was the first time Common Sense had ever been on a magazine cover. In a radio interview on local Hip Hop radio station 106Jams Common gave the mag a shout and thank you for the cover, but credited it to magazine "owners" J-Bird and Jello...ouch...ha. Jello was J-Bird's partner in a promotion company, so I understood the mistake and never addressed it.
In any event, I encourage you check out the book, from what I can tell it is a well written, insightful, and he has an interesting history from his family life to his journeys with music and movies. It's great to see someone who came out of the grimey streets of underground and rise to the top and build a reputation and career for himself while staying true to his skills, while at the same time improving his life. That is the true essence of Hip Hop...making something out of nothing.
*At the same time that Common was gaining momentum, Tung Twista was also building a buzz with his "fast rap gimmick" and helping bring some attention to Chicago. He is one of the few Hip Hop artists that has been able to turn a gimmick into a legitimate and successful recording career.
**I actually went to the Relativity Records office that trip and got a label sampler that debuted his first single "I Used To Love H.E.R"...a song I almost ignored because I thought it was a "love song", but had to stop in my tracks when he dropped that last line, "Who I'm talking about y'all is Hip Hop...". A similar story takes place in the book, so I imagine many had that response, which is an additional reason why that song is so great. Common makes an excellent point about that assessment which made me question my reaction at that a time...
Bonus: Hell On Wheels Trailer