Next month makes 30 years since Common received the coveted "Unsigned Hype" column in The Source magazine. As he would do with Biggie Smalls and Mobb Deep, journalist Matty C. found Common Sense a worthy inclusion for the highly-respected Hip-Hop publication. Unlike today, 1991 was a time when MCs from Chicago, Illinois were often overlooked in the national and global Rap space. It was Lonnie Rashid Lynn's skills that kicked in the door. By 1992, his debut, Can I Borrow A Dollar? arrived on Relativity Records and launched a discography that includes three Grammys, an Oscar, and many more trophies in the case.
Thirty years later, Common's Hip-Hop hunger still shows. Now an accomplished actor, author, and humanitarian, Common still makes music a priority. Tomorrow (September 10), he will release A Beautiful Revolution, pt.2, a follow-up to 2020's first installment which featured Chuck D, Black Thought, and Stevie Wonder, among others. Last month, Common offered up a preview of the LP with "When We Move," a single featuring Black Thought and Seun Kuti.
However, sometimes a freestyle can be the greatest promotional tool for an album-ask J. Cole. Like Jermaine before The Off-Season, Common swung by the LA Leakers to drop one of 2021's best freestyles-from a high-profile MC. "I'm gonna get it sparked; I'm an MC," Common tells Justin Credible and DJ Sour Milk after a brief introduction. Then, the rapper delivers on that point with nearly eight minutes of bars over instrumentals by Group Home ("Livin' Proof," produced by DJ Premier) and Raekwon ("Incarcerated Scarfaces," produced by RZA).
Early on, Common plays with film titles and The Ironman franchise before reworking some lines from past songs, including 1997's "Invocation" from One Day It'll All Make Sense. "This is a prism / Of Hip-Hop realism / From the block we have risen / Still, we walk like Egyptians," he then spits. "These are the strides of a knocker / Took time to myself like Naomi Osaka / Took time off to never rhyme soft / My minds off the grid that I climbed off." Common's energy increases as he professes, "Damn near EGOT / And he's still Hip-Hop." Moments later, the artist reinforces that notion with a beat-box demonstration.
As the beat switches to Wu-Tang Clan, Common continues the strong stride. "I wear my ancestors' watches / That's why I'm timeless and I know God got us," he commands, before "To stay Common I can't stare at the comments / I'm a slave to progress and A-1 honest / Malcolm X-ray vision, I see through devils / The gods stay down the block, I always knew the levels." Showing his improvisation, the seasoned freestyler also raps: "The Witty Unpredictable / Every time this play, give Rae' his residuals."
Moments later, Common drops a highlight worthy set of bars with: "Brothers gonna work it out, my mind is the muscle / I exercise thoughts, divine and the subtle / Like a blind man's rebuttal / See what I'm sayin'? / Kaepernick of this Rap sh*t, you see I ain't playin' / With these goofy-ass rappers / I do movies; I know actors / It's all on your face, you ain't never been proactive / This is pro-Black hood / Wrapped in Backwoods."
On his way out, Common shouts out KRS-One, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Ice Cube, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Twista, André 3000, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, JAY-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan. During his incredible freestyle, the MC also acknowledged the passing of Biz Markie.