Years ago, back in ’92, Common rapped,
“Cause after awhile, I’ma wanna get BUCKwild
And now months laters, I’ma say it ain’t my child
I’m sterile girl, we ain’t never did nothin
Cause only you and I know that the Common Sense is bluffin”
But in “97, Common sings a different tune. To give you some background information, Common and his girlfriend at the time found out that she was pregnant. And Common was not a financially successful rapper and he didn’t feel mentally prepared to raise a kid. His contemplations about abortion and his regrets are chronicled in “Retrospect for Life”. The song has two verses; one directed to his unborn child and one directed to his baby’s mama. Common acknowledges his mistakes (“Nerve I got to talk about them n*ggas with a gun/ Must’ve really thought I was God to take the life of my son”) but also explains his fears of letting his child suffer a turbulent life.
One Day It’ll All Make Sense is possibly Common’s most personal album, as he explains in the opening track. It is also one of his attempts to achieve some commercial success. One may speculate this as half-heartedness but despite the mainstream-friendliness, the album is actually quite a sincere effort. The production is much more expansive and the lyrics, while not on the same level as Resurrection, are still top-notch.
Common’s concept is to take you on a trip down memory lane and some songs do illustrate the point. “Reminding Me (Of Sef)” is a reminiscence of good times and a fallen friend. “G.O.D.” discusses finding God through personal experiences rather than through Sunday service. The “whodunit” trilogy, “Stolen Moments” recalls a time when Common got robbed and tried to figure out who committed the crime. The trilogy is surprisingly a well-constructed mystery whose twist at the end actually made sense.
But, like every other hip hop concept album, it is a loose concept as there are several songs that deviate from the concept. For the most part, however, these deviations are entertaining. “Real N*gga Quotes” may be Common at his angriest. “Making a Name for Ourselves” is an interesting one since it does not sound like something Common would do. In fact, his guest star, Canibus, seems more fit for a dark beat like this. But both make indelible impressions:
I can tell by how you write, you the type to run in a fight
I hold mics while you hold spite
Like a broken hearted b*tch
Don’t give no f*ck who yo team or who you startin with
Cameoed or charted with, I house n*ggas like apartments with
Mic mechanisms, I dissect a rhythm
Move crowds with kinetic wisdom
It’s like a Malcolm X-orcisim, f*ck the rhythm, I hit him
I want him got not get him, auction his wack ass off, then bid him
From a poisonous algorithm liable to kill ’em
My style will get in ’em, way up in ’em
My face don’t belong in The Source
It belongs on the shroud of turan, for certain
I grab mics and murder sh*t
It’s wickeder than Satan worshippers going to Catholic church services
You heard of this
The lyrical verbalist, trash herbalist
The wrath of my cold-blooded verses is merciless
Rap snap, get your ass cracked like bear traps
Contaminate your air sacs like tear gas
And I swear black, try to battle me, you won’t last
I’ll turn your ass into the artist formerly known as, you gay ass f*g
I’ll blow you to ashes with tactics
Strip you naked, then make you hug a cactus, you bastard
A couple times, the deviations feel lacking and at times pointless. “Food for Funk” features semi-decent verses while “All Night Long”, the very first Common-Erykah Badu collaboration, gets boring. It’s moments like these that tarnish an otherwise consistent album whose conventional tactics don’t feel compromising. Back then, fans accused Common of straying from his roots. But in reflection, this is Common’s career statement. As an MC and as a man, this is his most insightful record. This is his transition record from the young b-boy Common Sense to the wise MC Common.
This album is also noteworthy as the last album No I.D. and Common would record anything together for 14 years. Common would then move to New York to work with the Soulquarians (a hip hop super-supergroup of conscious artists like The Roots, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, J Dilla, Talib Kweli, Bilal, among others). And in New York, Common would start his next era as an artist and make some of the most experimental music he ever made.