Old School Review: RESURRECTION by Common

Somewhere between 1992 and 1993, something just snapped in Common. Rather than continue the quick-tongued goofy raps from Can I Borrow A Dollar?, the man chose a fresh start instead. No more simple braggadocio. This time, Common chooses to be smarter and construct his rhymes in a much more consistent flow. Witness the opening verse of “Resurrection” and it is clear to see that Common is going all out:

I stagger in the gathering possessed by a patter-in
That be scatterin
Over the global my vocals be travellin
Unravellin my abdomen it’s slime that’s babblin
Grammatics that are masculine
I grab them in, verbally badgerin broads
I wish that Madelline, was back on Video LP
I went against all odds and got it even steven
Proceed to read and not believin everything I’m readin
But my brain was bleedin, needin feedin, and exercise
I didn’t seek the best of buys, it’s a lie to textualize
I analyze where I rest my eyes
And chastise the best of guys with punchlines
I’m Nestle when it’s Crunch-time
For your mind like one time
If poetry was p*ssy I’d be sunshine
cause I deliver like the Sun-Times
Confined in once-mines on dumb rhymes I combine
I’m hype like I’m unsigned, my diet I unswine
Eatin beef sometimes I try to cut back on that sh*t
This rap sh*t is truly outta control
My style is too developed to be arrested
It’s the freestyle, so now it’s out on parole
They tried to hold my soul in a holding cell so I would sell
I bonded with a break and had enough to make bail
A misdemeanor fell on his knee for the jury
I asked No for his ID and the judge thought there was two of me
Motion for a recess to retest my fingerprints
They relinquished since, cause I was guilty in a sense

The punchlines are smarter and the rhyme schemes are much more complex. Common manages to work an extended metaphor in the last eight bars. But Common’s true moment of artistry comes in the next track and arguably his most famous one: “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. It starts off as seemingly a reminiscence of a past love who became richer and more materialistic. But piece the clues together and one understands that this “love” is actually an extended metaphor for hip hop. No ID’s jazzy and ominous beat evokes both nostalgia and loss as Common spits the greatest hip hop tale ever told.

On his last album, the two singles were the strongest tracks. But on this album, almost every track is excellent. I say “almost” because “Orange Pineapple Juice” seems out of place here as it features more of Common’s Can I Borrow A Dollar? style. Yet lyrically, Common stands at arguably his strongest ever. His raps are much more deeper and personal. He recalls times of lazing around with friends in “Nuthin’ to Do” and struggling with self identity in “Book of Life”. Common also confronts the criticism that he isn’t a hardcore rapper in the aptly-titled “thisisme”.

On the production end, No I.D. experiences his own resurrection, electing to produce more polished beats that were still heavily influenced by jazz. And there are those moments where the production truly sounds masterful. The funk gets funkier and samples are implemented seamlessly. And “Communism” is an effective jazz-funk composition that (in my opinion) is No ID’s best beat on this album that isn’t “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. Fans claim that Resurrection is No ID’s finest hour. And truthfully, it is very much a valid claim.

Resurrection is Common’s transition from Unsigned Hype to hip hop legend. This album is the reason why he is one of the most beloved rappers in hip hop history. Sadly, this album only sold around 2000 copies. So one of Common’s biggest irks remains unanswered: why is he not your favorite emcee?

Rating: 9.5/10

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