Common is one of the few emcees from the early 90’s that is still bringing us heat in 2016/2017 and has been doing it non-stop. Although Common’s popularity has had more of a rise in the mid to late 2000’s than it did in The 90’s Common’s work throughout the whole time has been extremely consistent. So consistent that we challenged ourselves to rank Common’s albums. With 25 years in the game Common has not slowed up his mission to provide the listen with quality music:
11) Universal Mind Control (2008)
We’ve seen Common switch it up a few times in his career. This is the one time Com tried to switch things up to cater to the dance floor. The disappointing thing about this album was the fact that it was produced entirely by The Neptunes and Mr. DJ from Outkast. Maybe the expectations were too high just viewing the lineup. “Universal Mind Control” was a lackluster effort with a lot of talent on it. Especially factoring in that it was following up a very good effort in “Finding Forever.
10) Nobody’s Smiling (2014)
“Nobody’s Smiling” was Common’s attempt to bridge the gap between Hip-Hop generations. Drill Music had taken over the Chicago scene. Chicago’s Hip-Hop scene was changing rapidly and we were seeing more young rappers coming out of the Chi than ever before. The violence in Chicago was rising at a rapid rate as well and with the raise of Drill Music the rest of the nation was starting to hear the violence in the music. Common choose to speak on how bad his city and their youth were hurting in this album and reached out to a younger class of emcees for collaborations on this album.
09) Can I Borrow A Dollar? (1992)
The debut album from Chicago emcee Common. Com’s debut gives us a very raw and unpolished Common that we are not used to seeing throughout his career. The flow was more of the times and you can tell that Common Sense what still trying to find his footing in the game. Common was carrying bottles of forty ounces in videos during this album. Although very raw on this album it’s clear that the talent was there.
08) The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)
When an effort this solid is ranked your 8th best album just know you have a pretty great catalog. The excitement from this album started with the explosive collaboration of Common and Nas on “Ghetto Dreams”. This collaboration started all types of rumors that the two legendary emcees were going to make an album together. It didn’t help that Jay Z and Kanye teamed up for “Watch The Throne” that same year which added fuel to the fire. This album has a diss record on Drake in “Sweet” where Common seemed to be totally enraged on that record about all the softness he was seeing in Hip-Hop. Tho Drake’s name is not mentioned in the song when ask if the diss was towards Drake Common didn’t deny it. This album also features Maya Angelou which is legendary in itself.
07) Electric Circus (2002)
The most controversial album in Common’s career. This is the album in Common’s catalog that people love to hate. Many people that hate this album so much never actually heard the album. Many were turned off to the album because of Common’s questionable wardrobe at the time and the presentation of the album. The assessment of “Electric Circus” is a classic case of the audience just not wanting to hear THAT effort from THAT artist. If an artist that was known for taking more risk made an album with “Aquarius”, “Come Close”, “New Wave”, “Electric Wire Hustle Flower”, “I Am Music”, etc. it would have been deemed daring, brilliant, and experimental. Unfortunately that’s not what a majority of people wanted to hear from Common at the time.
06) Finding Forever
“Finding Forever” is an awesome follow up album to “BE”. Common was becoming more popular than he had ever been in his career upon the release of this album. So in some ways it could have been viewed as a make or break situation. During this time the Common and Kanye chemistry was at it’s height and these guys were in a zone. Common was showing range with this effort from hardcore joints like “The Game” and “Southside” to uplifting records to his core like “The People”, the inventive “I Want You”, and radio singles like “Divin Me Wild” with Lily Allen. Very complete album.
05) Black America Again (2016)
“Black America Again” is so impressive for many reasons. For a Hip-Hop artist that is 24 years in the game to come with such a quality record is very rare. Common achieved this by being himself. Not trying to latch on to whatever is hot right now and not even trying to give us “the old Common”. Stevie Wonder made an appearance of this album and Common is rapping at a very high level on this album. It would be difficult to find a rapper from Common’s generation that made a song as hard as “Home” in 2016.
04) One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)
“One Day…..” is thought of by many as Common’s most complete effort. Com had some of everything on this album and talked about everything from God to abortion. Very heavy album subject matter wise with very high level rhyming. Common is the only rapper that dared to go on a song back and forth with Canibus at the height of Canibus’s lyrical powers. The guest appearances on this album are insane; Q-Tip, De La Soul, Cee-lo, Erykah Badu, Canibus, Black Thought, and a host of other great musicians.
03) Like Water For Chocolate (2000)
No album in Common’s catalog has aged as well as “Like Water For Chocolate”. J Dilla put in some heavy work on this album. DJ Premier came with one of Common’s most underrated singles in “The 6th Sense”. Common released his most popular single to date from this album in “The Light”. “Like Water For Chocolate” is the funkiest Common album in his catalog. The live instrumentation is so smooth and the way he attacked these tracks is perfect. Every Hip-Hop fan knows how lethal “Thelonius” is.
02) Resurrection (1994)
“Resurrection” is the breakthrough. “Can I Borrow A Dollar?” let people know that Chicago had some Hip-Hop going on but “Resurrection” let people know that they were serious. “I Used To Love H.E.R.” is held in many circles as one of the best Hip-Hop songs of all-time. In 94′ the song even got the attention of one of Hip-Hop’s biggest stars in Ice Cube which begin the Common and Cube feud. Cube felt like Common’s single was a shot at the West Coast and Gangsta Rap that Cube was directly or indirectly involved in. Nobody was hurt and the two legends currently make Barbershop movies with one another.
01) BE (2005)
Possibly one of the greatest “comeback” albums of all-time. Fans had switched up on Common and thought that he had lost the fire that they once loved because of what they heard on “Electric Circus”. Fans thought that Common had been hit with the “Badu Effect” to no return. This album even had warning shots (which is something we miss in today’s internet age). Common jumped on the last verse of Kanye West’s “Get Em High” on Kanye’s classic debut album “The College Dropout” and let people know in that verse that he was back to rare form. And after that we see Common and Kanye on the Dave Chappelle Show performing a never heard before joint “The Food” in a kitchen setup. At that point you knew something crazy was coming. Then Common dropped “The Corner” with Kanye on the hook and The Last Poets on the spoken word. This was gritty, this was what Hip-Hop needed at the time. And in perfect Common fashion he provided a great balance with songs like “Go!” and “Faithful”. The intro to this album is pure magic and was so dope of an intro they even shot a video for it. “BE” is Common’s magnum opus in a career with one of the most impressive catalogs ever in Hip-Hop.