Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known by his stage name Common (and previously known as Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor.
Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 90s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. His first major label album, Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and moderate commercial success. Its popularity was matched by 2005's Be, which was nominated in the 2006 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album. Common was awarded his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West) (from Finding Forever), his first Grammy was awarded in 2003 for Best R&B Song for "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" with Erykah Badu. His best-of album Thisisme Then was released on November 27, 2007. Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, and the upcoming Terminator Salvation.
Common was born on Chicago's South Side. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahila Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. Common's parents divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father moving to Denver, Colorado. He later became a member of the notorious Four Corner Hustlers gang. This left Common to be raised by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and even landed Common a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teen years. While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Common also formed C.D.R., a rap trio that opened for acts such as N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane. Common later left this group when he attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA to study business administration.
Common dropped out of Florida A&M University and was featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine after a friend sent in a tape of Common rapping. Under the stage name Common Sense, he debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It EZ" followed by the album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?.
With the 1994 release of Resurrection, Common 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's last album produced almost entirely by his long-time production partner, No I.D., who was also the then-mentor of a young Kanye West.
Common has a daughter, Omoye Assata Lynn (born 1997). Since childhood, he was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Following the controversy over one of Wright's sermons, Common criticized the American news media's coverage of the incident as having "an agenda." He dated Erykah Badu from 2000 to around 2003. Dating rumors have always swirled around Common, from singer/actress Alicia Keys to actress Taraji P. Henson both of whom played alongside Common in the movie Smokin' Aces. Common played the role of Alicia Keys's boyfriend in the music video "Like You'll Never See Me Again" and his own music video "I Want You," making speculations even stronger. He is currently linked to professional tennis player Serena Williams.
With both artists hailing from the Great Lakes region of the United States (Chicago and Detroit, respectively), Common and J Dilla established their chemistry early on. Both became members of the Soulquarians collective, and collaborated on numerous projects together, even placing one song, "Thelonius", on both the Slum Village album Fantastic, Vol. 2, and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. As Dilla's health began to decline from the effects of Lupus Nephritis, he relocated to Los Angeles for treatment, and asked Common to make the move with him as a roommate. Dilla would lose his battle with the rare disease, but his asking of Common to move in with him during his darkest hour is testament of a friendship between the two that transcended rap music, or the music industry. As a result, Common is a friend of the Yancey Family, particularly with J Dilla's mother, Maureen Yancey.
In 2006, Common was a model for photos of The Gap's fall season collection, appearing on posters in stores. Later that year, he performed in The Gap's "Holiday In Your Hood" themed Peace Love Gap. In February 2007, Common signed a deal with New Era to promote their new line of Layers fitted caps. Common also stars in a television commercial for the 2008 Lincoln Navigator. He appears in NBA 2k7 in Streetball mode. In the fall of 2008, Common appeared in an ad for Microsoft's Zune, comparing his new song, "Universal Mind Control," to ,"Planet Rock," a song from hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa.
As of the 29th of September 2008 Common was instrumental in bridging the trans-Atlantic gap by signing UK's Mr Wong and J2K to Kanye West's Getting Out Our Dreams recording outfit. Common met the pair during his tour in the UK earlier on in the year. It is speculated that the deal is not only to bring the UK and US hip hop genres together but that to rival Syco Music's cross-Atlantic success with Leona Lewis. He also has a deal with Zune mp3 players. In 2008 Common made an estimated 12 million dollars, making him equal in earnings to Eminem and Akon, tied for the 13th highest grossing Hip-Hop artist. In December 2008, Common will launch a new clothing line in partnership with Microsoft titled "Softwear", based on 1980s computing.
In 2003, Common appeared on the popular 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 NBC show "Scrubs". In 2007, Common appeared with Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys in the crime film Smokin' Aces. He made 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 20 January 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. In 2008, he starred in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie;