On this day, October 25, in hip-hop history…
1994: Despite a rich musical history steeped into the music of jazz, blues and house, the Chicago rap scene was lacking significant mainstream attention by the mid-1990s. However, Lonnie Lynn, better known to the world as Common, became the crown jewel of Chicago rap when he released his sophomore album, Resurrection, in the Fall of 1994.
Still going by his original moniker of Common Sense, Resurrection achieved great acclaim and praise for Com’s heady, intricate rhymes and its jazz-inflected tunes that paid homage to the city’s musical heritage. Written in some ways as love letter to the city that he grew up in, Com tackles complex social subjects with remarkable care. Many songs address issues such as wealth disparity (“Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs. Poor Man)”), urban decay (“Nuthin To Do”) and the pressures of society on one’s sense of self (“The Book Of Life”). The album’s most noted gem is the classic “I Used To Love H.E.R.,” that uses complex metaphor to describe the decline of hip-hop’s moral spirit into crass commercialism through the narrative device of the story of a self-destructing woman. In some quarters, the record would be perceived as a tacit shot across the bow to west coast hip-hop which inspired Westside Connection and their leader Ice Cube to diss Common and ignite a brief feud between the camps.
19 years later, Common’s Resurrection is considered an unqualified classic in the realm of hip-hop and a spiritual forefather to the growing “conscious rap” movement that sprung in opposition to hip-hop’s expanding commercialism. While the album did not garner significant mainstream attention outside of Chicago at the time, its reputation has blossomed in the years since its release as Resurrection is generally considered one of the best rap albums ever.