Top 10 Common Songs
In this list of the Top 10 Common Songs, we pay tribute to the Chicago emcee, who's one of the most respected rappers in the game.
For over 20 years, Com has represented the Windy City and hip-hop through several classic albums including 'Resurrection,' 'One Day It'll All Make Sense' and 'Be.' Outside of rap, Common has further branched out into acting and producing movies for the big screen. The veteran rhyme-slinger is the exact definition of an artist with longevity.
In celebration of Common's 41st birthday today (March 13), TheDrop.fm presents some of his best rap songs.
To kick off this list, we have to start from the beginning. 'Breaker 1/9' is from Common's 1993 debut album, 'Can I Borrow a Dollar.' The song boasts the familiar sample of the Isley Brother's 'Between the Sheets' and a booming beat that catered to jeeps with big sound systems. On the song, Com recalls various romantic trysts that have gone awry.
Common's 2008 track, 'Universal Mind Control,' was heavily deadpanned by critics who felt that the Chicago rapper was abandoning rap for the dance crowd. Produced by the Neptunes, the song, which samples Afrika Bambaataa's classic jam 'Planet Rock,' became the anthem for Microsoft's short-lived Zune music player. The accompanying futuristic video was directed by Hype Williams and featured Pharrell Williams as a T-shirt wearing robot.
One of the many Kanye West-produced songs that made Common's 'Be' a hip-hop classic album. On the Grammy-nominated song, Com observes Chicago's hard-wrought street corners. "The corner / Where struggle and greed fight / We write songs about wrong ‘cause it’s hard to see right / Look to the sky, hoping it will bleed light / Reality's a bitch, and I heard that she bites," he raps.
Common is known for his hard rap flows, but on 2000's 'The Light,' he shows his softer side. On the J Dilla-produced track, he sends love and affection to his rumored girlfriend at the time, Erykah Badu. "It's important, we communicate / And tune the fate of this union, to the right pitch / I never call you my bitch or even my boo / There's so much in a name and so much more in you," he raps.
Common's 'The Dreamer/The Believer' is a fantastic rap album that reunited him with his longtime friend and producer No I.D. One of the standout tracks on the LP is 'Gold,' a soulful yet spirited rap song with an uplifting message. "I am the voice of the meek and underprivileged / The smell of success, I want y'all to get a whiff of this / On the move like black slaves through the wilderness / I write it, and still get invited to white Christmases," he spits.
Although many have pegged Common as a socially-conscious emcee, people forget that he's also a formidable battle rapper as well. When Ice Cube (as a member of the rap trio Westside Connection) threw a lyrical jab at Com on 'Westside Slaughterhouse,' he responded with 'The Bitch in Yoo.' The Chicago rapper nearly ethered Cube's career with his seething diss song. Thankfully, after a meeting with Minister Louis Farrakhan, Com and Cube ended their rap feud before it got really ugly.
Coming in at No. 4 is Common's most beloved rap song to date, 'I Used to Love H.E.R.' Using hip-hop as an extended metaphor to describe an unfaithful female lover, the melodic tune speaks about the questionable direction hip-hop was going in during the late '80s and '90s. "I might've failed to mention that this chick was creative / Once the man got you, well, he altered her native / Told her if she got an image and a gimmick / That she could make money / And she did it like a dummy," he raps. Com's lyrics aren't too far off from what's happening with hip-hop today.
At No. 3 is 'Retrospect for Life,' another poignant song from Common featuring the soulful vocals of Lauryn Hill. The piano-driven track deals with the topical issue of abortion and the ethics regarding pro-choice and pro-life. "I'm sorry for takin' your first breath, first step, and first cry / But I wasn't prepared mentally nor financially / Havin' a child shouldn't have to bring out the man in me / Plus I wanted you to be raised within a family," he raps.
Common takes it to the streets with his fantastic soul-sampled anthem 'The People.' The Kanye West-produced song is both a hip-hop anthem and a love song for his beloved city of Chicago. "Can't leave rap alone the streets need me / Hunger in they eyes, is what seems to feed me / Inside peace mixed with beast seem to breed me / Nobody believe, until I believe me," he raps.
'Love Is' is a beautiful song that was produced by the late and great J Dilla. Common's thought-provoking lyrics are heartfelt and connect with the human spirit. The song is simply about love and how it affects people in their daily lives. "If love is a place, I'ma go again / At least now, now I know to go within / At time it can take ya for a spin / Heartbreak hotel then you're home again / I've seen love make a n---- soul pretend / Like a story that he don't want to end," he raps.