With anecdotes about "Retrospect For Life" and working and living with J Dilla, Common's memoir has some intimate moments, but sheds light on an emcee/actor with an unblemished reputation.
As far as rappers with unblemished reputations go, Common is right up there at the top. No baby-mama drama playing out on the gossip blogs, no tax liens (at least that we know of). About the only recent controversy (the beef with Ice Cube is older than the average Odd Future fan) that the man born Lonnie Rashid Lynn was involved in, wasn't even his fault at all. Fox News has an anti-rap tendency, so for Com to be invited to the White House to perform in front of the First Family in May didn't sit too well.
Perhaps it was the infamy that publicity from the Fox News episode generated in the mainstream, or just coincidence, but a division of Harper Collins, a major publishing house, green-lighted Common's autobiography, the aptly titled One Day It'll All Make Sense. The tome reaches stores this week and sheds more light into the Chicago emcee-turned-actor who is quintessentially the definition of “conscious rapper.”
The book is relatively safe reading material – it's not exactly a tell-all along the lines of Superhead's – but it has its moments that capture Common's essence and voice. That essence is genuine – this writer can attest, having had the pleasure of interacting with Common on several occasions. Few celebrities, much less rappers, carry themselves with as much humility and genuineness as Rashid, or “Rash,” as you will be able to call him if your read his memoir, co-written by writer Adam Bradley.
The book begins a little slow, with Common in full "positive rapper" mode, using the word “love” seemingly in every other sentence, even while describing interaction with an absentee father, a 6'8" “Chicago hoop legend” with NBA aspirations. Family is at the center of Common's life and art – that's established early. Him mom, who appeared on the cover of the acclaimed One Day It'll All Make Sense album, appears in the book more extensively in the form of passages that intercede with Common's narrative. They offer a unique perspective, a different point-of-view, one that sometimes contradicts Com's.
Common takes the reader into the streets and landmarks across Chicago's South Side with vivid detail, and provides ample anecdotes of his pre-stardom days, making music as part of CDR, a group he formed with a friend from middle school introduced as Dion – whose name Hip Hop fans know backwards, No I.D. We find out exactly how he landed his first deal at Relativity Records and how his pops had to intervene in order to get him out of it. He tells the story of how “Retrospect For Life,” a haunting masterpiece about abortion that features a chorus from Lauryn Hill, came to be. If that doesn't move a reader emotionally, Com's poignant words about the late Jay Dee certainly will (J Dilla came to live with Common in L.A. before Lupus took his life).
The deeper you delve into the book, the more you will feel that Common doesn't mind shattering the “conscious artist” stereotype that has shadowed his career. He is so candid at times it's refreshingly hilarious, with perhaps no better example of that as to when he describes the women that he began attracting as his fame grew. “They'd want to talk about spirituality and politics and literature,” Com writes. “We'd talk, but they'd still end up with their legs over their head.”
There isn't much to knock about One Day It'll All Makes Sense. It's a well-written narrative about an unassuming Hip Hop icon who has managed to keep a relatively low profile. Even for it's at-times saccharine positivity, it offers up juicy anecdotes and stories that will be of interest even to the Basketball Wives set.