Editors’ NotesResurrection was a new sound because, for one, I was starting to evolve as an MC,” Common tells Apple Music. “I was really working on my rhymes, but at the same token, I was listening to John Coltrane. I was reading the Quran, the Bible, opening my mind up and really starting to to say, ‘Man, I got to think on a higher level.’ Just seeking. That gave me something new, a new way to MC.”

The Chicago rapper, actor, and author’s second studio album, 1994’s Resurrection, boasted some of the most dazzling wordplay of its day—double entendres and dizzying similes poured atop jazzy breakbeats by a man who’d been making an intentional effort to expand his consciousness. “I was just that young Chicago dude sitting around drinking beers with my homies,” he says of the time following his 1992 debut Can I Borrow a Dollar?, which he recorded under the name Common Sense. “But I was also seeking out knowledge. I was out here kind of gang-banging with cats, but at the same token, I'm still a spiritual dude. The maturity and some of the wisdoms, it started to emanate and crystallize, because I really started seeing myself for who I wanted to be.”

Absent are the fast raps that buried some of the slicker ideas on his debut. In their place are more laidback, intricate verbal spills that channel the 22-year-old’s exuberance. “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” which would become one of his most famous tracks, is a piercing polemic on what he sees as hip-hop’s spiritual decline, while the solemn horns of “Nuthin’ to Do” find him reminiscing about his early years sipping alcohol with his old Chi-Town crew. “I got so much trouble on my mind,” he spits on “Book of Life,” a rumination about his path up to that point where he also goes on to recite the chorus of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up.”

In addition to the nimble rhymes, No I.D. (along with The Twilite Tone, then known as Ynot) contributes production that plays smooth, funky, and palatable, in the vein of noted Common influence A Tribe Called Quest. “I can't say that we had a specific plan as far as, like, ‘Okay, we're just going to go in and create this jazz, vibe-out album,’” Common says. “But somewhere in our hearts and spirits, we knew we were going to be the creators. No I.D. is really like a great mastermind when it comes to giving things direction. So his way of making sure I had the right beats in the right direction was just creating dope beats and being like, ‘Check this out.’”

The end result was a perfect balance of easy-listening sonics and earnest lyrical reflection that gave a young Common the confidence to continue his road to greatness. “Resurrection itself was the first time that people saw us—all these different people [saying], ‘Common, Chicago is here with something,’” the MC says. “So it was life-changing; the light at the end of the tunnel started to open up more, like, ‘Okay, actually I may can have a career in this.’”

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