“Nuthin’ to Do”
Produced by: No I.D.
Common: “That song was so definitive to where I was in my life at the time. That was like what we were doing at the time, just hanging out, getting with girls, and even if didn’t smoke weed all the time I would make a stop to get weed. I was into beers, Heineken was the shit. We would just be them dudes who would be getting in trouble drinking. You see a nigga just out on the curb stopping anywhere to pee. Just having fun in a Chicago way.
“That’s how we would do, we would look for stuff to get into. We would pile up in the car and just be rolling to a party, hollering at some girls, a dude say something wrong or he looked wrong or we heard he said something wrong and we get to fighting. Just mopping dudes, we would go for ours.
When we came into the parties, people would be like, ‘Aww man, we can’t even have a good time no more’ because we would look for trouble. Just mopping dudes, we would go for ours. - Common
“When we came into the parties, people would be like, ‘Aww man, we can’t even have a good time no more’ because we would look for trouble. That was like our release in a way. We were mostly fighting but we would go downtown and sometimes rob people but not as much as we were fighting. Those fights were usually caused by us drinking and some dude would look some way or some girl would be like, ‘This dude said this about you.’
“We looked for any little thing to get into a fight. These was some dudes we didn’t like from certain neighborhoods, so if we saw one of them at a party it was automatically on. Sometimes, it would get to shooting but not often. I had a couple of friends that did some stuff.
“I had guns pulled on me with dudes shooting. One instance, we were rivaling with these dudes. We stayed around 87th street. There was [Chicago gangs] Blackstones, Four Corner Hustlers, and Vice Lords and sometimes we would be into it with other dudes because of where we lived or over girls. There were dudes we always used to get into with, and once you start mopping dudes, one dude might up that thang.
“I remember, a dude pulled a gun on us up in my school. I had gotten into a fight with this one dude over this girl I was going with. So his boy came up later because there was enough of us up in my school. I had already beat the dude one on one, but he was always talking shit, so he had his homie come up and homie had that thing for real so we had to get up out of these quick. Luckily, when dude was trying to get his gun ready to shoot, one of my boys stopped him from doing it.”
No I.D.: “We had a different beat to that record at first. After we went for that first stretch to record the album [in Long Island], we figured out we didn’t like the original version.
We didn’t have real budgets when we were doing this. They were just giving us enough money to go in the studio and do it. To be honest, when we did Can I Borrow A Dollar?, they gave us $600 to do the album. - No I.D.
“I used to do beats and record them as the message on my answering machine; back when they had those little tape recorders. [Common] used to call and listen to those beats over and over and he’d write raps like that. We had a real weird process.
“Back then, you either had it on cassette or you didn’t have it. And on top of that, we didn’t always have the proper technology to take it from the drum machine to cassette. So we’d have to do the best that we could do. No laptops, no ProTools. I’d do my part, he’d do his, and we’d just have to imagine what they’d sound like together.
“We didn’t have real budgets when we were doing this. They were just giving us enough money to go in the studio and do it. To be honest, when we did Can I Borrow A Dollar?, they gave us $1600 to do the album. It was so low that it was basically like no money—especially by today’s standards.
“You’ll notice that Common’s voice, delivery and subject matter kinda changed in this time, too. It was like ‘Okay, enough of the silly stuff. That’s cool, but that era isn’t what it is anymore.’ A lot of it was that his voice changed between albums, and got a little deeper.
In my opinion—and also this is something echoed by Rob Swift of The X-Ecutioners—but those are some of the best scratches that you’ll ever hear on any hip-hop record. I mean, I really challenge anyone to tell me where you can find better DJ work [than what DJ Mista Sinister did on that album]. - Peter Kang
“He really had different voices before his rap career. Sometimes he’d rap real low like Rakim, or even lower like Tone Loc. It was a running joke. It was like ‘Okay man, let’s get real and cut this silly shit’ [Laughs]. And we weren’t silly dudes—we were in real neighborhoods with real stuff going on. We weren’t some little kid jokesters, so we knew it was time to tighten it up.“
The Twilite Tone: “They used my Ol’ Dirty Bastard [Wu-Tang Clan] record to scratch on that one. Joey [Mista] Sinista [of the X-ecutioners] did the scratches on that Joey was a major creator when it comes to turntablism and scratching—he was insane. He was so precise with everything.
“I did all of the scratches on Can I Borrow A Dollar?, but none on Resurrection. I cut and scratch more with style. Joey and those guys were straight speed—that’s not saying they didn’t have style, because they did. Joey was able to do about anything because he was so fast and had flavor. That’s why he was appointed to do cuts and scratches on this album, and I had no opposition to that.”
Peter Kang: "In my opinion—and also this is something echoed by Rob Swift of The X-Ecutioners—but those are some of the best scratches that you’ll ever hear on any hip-hop record. I mean, I really challenge anyone to tell me where you can find better DJ work [than what DJ Mista Sinister did on that album]. In terms of a DJ working with an MC. Finding the right pieces to scratch into the song that completely works into the song on that level I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else."