The Players:
Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. a.k.a. Common a.k.a. Common Sense (Performer)
Dion Wilson a.k.a. No I.D. a.k.a. Immenslope (Producer, featured artist, & Common’s childhood friend)
Anthony Khan a.k.a. The Twilite Tone a.k.a. Ynot Never The Less (Producer, featured artist)
Derek Dudley (Common's longtime manager and friend)
Peter Kang (Executive producer & A&R for Relativity Records)
Lonnie “Pops” Lynn (Featured artist, Common’s father)

Before the album

Common: “When I started to work on Resurrection, I had thoughts like, ‘Man, I just released an album and not many people knew it came out. I want people to know that I’m here—I’m an MC, and I’m fresh.’ I was at a place where I was like, ‘I gotta really work to improve and to get better.’

“When you release your first album, you think, ‘Man, I’m dope,’ because all your friends telling you you dope.’ Then, once the world gets to it and you don’t see them going out to buy it, you’re not the talk of hip-hop, your album is not the album that everybody’s playing. Then you’re like, ‘I thought I had that!’ Then you realize... It’s like a wake-up call.

 

I even called the album Resurrection because, in many ways, I felt like I was dead to some people. People didn’t know about me. I remember looking at A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders cover and it had all the fresh, young dudes. I didn’t get asked to be on that cover, so that was, like, ‘Man! I didn’t get invited to the big game.’ I wanted to be included as part of the next movement of artists. [I felt like I was] overlooked. - Common

 

“I even called the album Resurrection because, in many ways, I felt like I was dead to some people. Some people didn’t know about me. [Laughs.] It’s like, ‘I want to awaken people to who I am and I’m probably coming from a place they didn’t even know. Not just Chicago, but Chicago and I’m an artist that they not really aware of.

“I remember looking at A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders cover and it had all the fresh, young dudes like The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief, Del The Funkeé Homosapien, along with all the classic rappers like Extra P and De La Soul. I didn’t get asked to be on that cover, so that was, like, ‘Man! I didn’t get invited to the big game.’ I wanted to be included as part of the next movement of artists. [I felt like I was] overlooked.

“It was one of those things where I was like, ‘Man, it’s time for me to work.’ Different things contributed towards me growing as an MC. Part of it was just life.

I was out on my own really trying to make it and survive as a young man. I was figuring out how to take care of my responsibilities and bills. I’m also growing as a spiritual being too, because I was raised as a Christian and I still am, but I was learning about Islam.

“I was starting to read more, I was introduced to things like jazz music. I remember, I had John Coltrane’s Blue Trainposter up on my wall when I was working on that album. And I had a Souls of Mischief’s Hieroglyphics symbol too. It was just this white cover with a bluish Hieroglyphics logo. I had a couple album covers up in my room.

 

That training combined with me really starting to feed my soul and my mind with new things, it allowed me to grow and get better as an artist. That was definitely the beginning of [all the elements] coming together. - Common

 

“I would go to Battery Studios every Tuesday and Thursday. I would go every week. That allowed me to consistently be working and I think I do really well when I’m able to consistently work and build.

“No I.D. was growing as a producer. When we first went to New York, he got introduced to the Beatnuts and they were introducing him to new types of records. We already had records, but they was telling us some of the spots to go to where they were digging, where Q-Tip was digging, where Pete Rock was digging, where Extra P and Diamond D and all those guys were digging.

“Another thing, there was three dudes. They was from Indiana. Their names were Milo, Herb G, and Cath. Milo and Herb G spent a lot of time in Chicago and I met them through No I.D.. They was would just come around my house and we would be rapping and freestyling. We were freestyling and working every day, working at the art of MCing. It was training.

“That training combined with me really starting to feed my soul and my mind with new things, it allowed me to grow and get better as an artist. That was definitely the beginning of [all the elements] coming together.”

No I.D.: “At the time, there were two things going on in Chicago hip-hop. One of them was this group of people called Dem Dare, that was Tone’s thing. We weren’t really a part of that, so there was already a line drawn, because they were very strong-minded about things.

 

The reason I had more records on Resurrection was because I was never arguing with Common. I would be like, ‘Hey man, what do you want?’ And Tone was more like ‘No, this is what you need to do. This is how you should dress, and this is how it should be done.’ - No I.D.

 

“The reason I had more records on Resurrection was because I was never arguing with Common. I would be like, ‘Hey man, what do you want?’ And Tone was more like, ‘No, this is what you need to do. This is how you should dress, and this is how it should be done.’

“The way we grew up, it just wasn’t our style. So there was a clash there and that’s what kinda led me to doing more music with [Common]. I wasn’t there to clash, I was just trying to do records that he liked. There would be a lot of arguments and in-fighting, so it was super competitive at that time.

“We were UAC. That was our crew from 87th Street. We had to give ourselves a name so we called ourselves the UnAmerican Caravan. It was people from our neighborhood that used to go out and drink and fight. We were just totally different than the Dem Dare guys.

“We weren’t opposing, but there was definitely a lot of tension, because a lot of people on our side were street guys, and their side was like more Hyde Park creative types, who liked to dance and hang out. It was preppy vs. street for lack of a better word.”

The Twilight Tone: “I was both Ynot and Twilite Tone. I came up with the name Twilite Tone in the early 80s, and a lot of people think I got it from the Manhattan Transfer song, but it was actually from watching The Twilight Zone so much. I was also a big fan of what Afrika Bambaataa, Herbie Hancock, and Kraftwerk were doing—the whole futurist thing.

 

I hated Dion’s name: Immenslope. So I kept looking at Dion and I flipped it backwards and said, ‘You should call yourself No I.D., man.’ I didn’t want him to call himself Noid after the Domino’s Pizza guy [Laughs.] - The Twilight Tone

 

“When we were working on the first album, I hated Dion’s name: Immenslope. So I kept looking at Dion and I flipped it backwards and said, ‘You should call yourself No I.D., man.’ I didn’t want him to call himself Noid after the Domino’s Pizza guy. [Laughs.] And as soon as I said that he looked at me and said, ‘You know what, you should call yourself Ynot.’ And from that point on I was Ynot Never The Less.

“That went with the Dem Darian (Dem Dare) philosophy of the inner city, the ghetto. It was a character. We are from royal descent, we all had Knowledge of Self. We were Kings and queens of a place now called Africa. A lot of people didn’t get that, they thought it was about the arrogance—but it wasn’t arrogance—it was confidence. So Ynot Never The Less was a personification of the Dem Darian philosophy.”

“You have to understand that Ynot wasn’t about the rah rah. Us and the Dem Dare crew weren’t about that. Even with the Polo gear, we weren’t boosting or shoplifting Polo. We were taking the skills that we’d learned in the street—whether it be DJing, breaking, graffiti, looking good—and buying it ourselves. We were polishing it and making it professionally.

“I learned all of this stuff on the streets. I taught myself how to DJ, I taught myself how to produce, I taught myself how to rhyme. My family is immersed in music. People say my Auntie is Chaka Khan, so let me be clear about that. Hassan Khan is my uncle. Hassan named Chaka and married her. Chicago ain’t all about juking. It’s a very deep musical town.

Peter Kang: “On his first album, Common was kind of gimmicky. Even if you look at the cover of Can I Borrow A Dollar? it’s so gimmicky. He’s got a map of Chicago superimposed in the background, he’s holding out a cup that says Chicago on it, and it means he’s trying to put Chicago on the map. Plus the name of the album is Can I Borrow A Dollar? and he’s got a dollar sticking out. It was cool but it was a little bit kitschy. [Laughs.]

 

If you look at the cover of Can I Borrow A Dollar? it’s so gimmicky. He’s got a map of Chicago superimposed in the background, he’s holding out a cup that says Chicago on it, and it means he’s trying to put Chicago on the map. It was a little bit kitschy. - Peter Kang

 

“Songs that he did like ‘Breaker 1-9’ were all about catching people’s attention sort of in a gimmicky way. A lot of people compared him to Das FX but he was actually doing, he was developing his style independent of Das FX.

Resurrection was just stripped down, bare bones, this is hip-hop. I’m not going to give you any gimmicks, I’m just going to give you amazing lyrics. He really went for was a more lyrical style and he took on a more spiritual, personal side which was not very common back then.

"Most of the MC’s were rhyming about fake gangsterism or just bragging and stuff but he took it to a more personal level and showed that it was cool to do that. He kind of just did away with the unnecessary stylistic things that people kind of did back then.”