All in the Journey

“It ain’t what it used to be.” That appears to be the evolving opinion of hip hop today. Criticized evolving opinion of hip hop today. Criticized for losing its essence, the content in hip hop has diminished. Hip hop is not about degrading women or disrespecting fellow artists who love it just as much. It is not valued on its hot beats, half-naked women in the videos, or the excessive amount of material things.

Like a friend you grew up with, hip hop began as a remedy for the struggles and battles of everyday life. For a lot of souls, it was the only thing that made sense. Lyrics consisted of truth, were socially conscious, and words of empowerment. Whether you were beat-boxin’, pop-lockin’ or just kickin’ it on the block, hip hop was the heart of it all.

In this time of materialistic “artists,” there is at least one man who respects the roots of hip hop and can feel its infl uence within his music. His name is Common, and this is his journey to Finding Forever. With his 1992 debut, Chi- town’s prodigy, Common, gained a lot of underground attention with his album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, and its hit single, “Take It EZ.” In 1994, with the help of producer No I.D. and a young Kanye West, Common released his second album, Resurrection, with which he achieved even more critical acclaim and attention. The single, “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” which featured lyrics that criticized hip hop for the direction it was headed, ignited a feud with West Coast rapper Ice Cube.

In September of 1997, Common released his third album, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, in which he collaborated with artists like Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, Canibus, Black Thought, and ?uestlove. His lyrics spoke of family ethics and responded to questions about his musical integrity by addressing his opinion on “gangstarism.” His talent and his love to inspire earned him a contract deal with MCA records.

In 2000, still working alongside the Soulquarians, Common’s next album, Like Water for Chocolate ,was released. Mass critical acclaim earned Common his first gold record. His single “The Light” earned him a Grammy nomination. Working with Kanye and longtime collaborator J Dilla on 2005’s Be, Common proved himself as a stand-out hip hop artist. From the first track, “Be,” to the last track, “It’s Your World,” Common delivered something new, fresh and nothing
short of a positive, socially-aware message of everyday encouragement and love for life.

July 2007: Finding Forever reached music stores everywhere. With the help of a fellow Chicagoan Kanye West, and others, Common once again delivered something refreshing, featuring artists Lily Allen, D’Angelo, Dwele and Bilal. Each track, from start to fi nish, fits perfectly together. Commons’ awareness of the temptations and blemishes of everyday life is presented loud and clear throughout each of his lyrics. From the inspiring track, “Misunderstood” to even the love songs like “I Want You” or “So Far to Go,” Common is guaranteed to have you singing along. With the tracks produced by Kanye, like “Southside,” “The People” and “Start the Show,” there is no reason to skip even one song. Common is not just an artist, but also a fervent
activist. Despite his celebrity status, he knows what his listeners feel and go through, and Finding Forever is the canvas for his lyrical masterpiece. Like he says, “I write to ‘Do the Right Thing’ like Spike do.”