Common: “That was one of the first—if not thefirst—beats that No I.D. made for that album and it was one of the first songs I recorded for the album. That was the first song I wrote that really was me talking about stepping into manhood.
I wasn’t trying to do anything but just write with my heart and experience. I was being somewhat clever with it, but cleverness doesn’t take precedence over what your soul’s saying. - Common
“I was like, ‘I’m 22, catch, in the prime of my life/I have no time for a wife/I funnel through the tunnel, disgruntled/Trying to find me some light.’ I was coming into an analogous self and awareness and I wanted to express my book of life.
“When I called it my ‘Book of Life,’ it was really about writing that life lesson and where I was at right then and there. I wasn’t trying to do anything but just write with my heart and experience. I was being somewhat clever with it, but cleverness doesn’t take precedence over what your soul’s saying.
“When I did ‘Book of Life’ and it was kinda serious—I don’t know if my team was ready for that yet. One thing about music is that you might make a song that’s relative to your life at that time, and some people may be younger and they might not feel it at a certain point. But some people grow into it, [they get] where you were when you wrote it.
“That song was the first of the beginning of a spiritual song that I had in that way and just me talking about my life. I would have to hear some of these things, too, to tell you more about [the song]. That’s what I remember from it.”
No I.D.: “This was another child of the ‘Soul By The Pound’ beat. Again, a lot of these concepts he’d come up with, and we’d sit around trying to come up with good scratches to use along with it. I think he actually came up with that ‘Here’s a little story that must be told’ scratch.
A lot of the songs didn’t have that much structure back then. It was basically me trying to prove that I was a good producer and him trying to prove that he was a good rapper. - No I.D.
“Common would drive around in his car to write his raps, and get a feel for the song, so I wouldn’t be there when he’d come up with it. I’d only help structure the song if I gave him the chorus, and then I’d let him build around it. I wouldn’t have much involvement in his writing other than ‘This is what the song’s going to be called, and here’s the beat.’
“He would just come back and say ‘Here’s the raps I got.’ Then it was trying to figure out how we turn this into a song. Because a lot of the songs didn’t have that much structure back then.
"It was basically me trying to prove that I was a good producer and him trying to prove that he was a good rapper—and then we try to make a song out of it.”