The Making of Common's "Resurrection"

“Pop’s Rap” f/ Lonnie “Pops” Lynn

Produced by: No I.D.

Common: “I didn’t grow up with him, but my father used to always talk to me about certain things and his talks were wise. He had street wisdom, cool shit to say, and smart stuff. It just resonated with me.

“One day he came to the studio. We was drinking beers and eating pizza and I was like, ‘Dad, go in the booth and say something.’ My old man went in there, sat down on that stool, did that one take, and now we have ‘Pop’s Rap’ on every album besides Universal Mind Control.

 

One day he came to the studio. We was drinking beers and eating pizza and I was like, ‘Dad, go in the booth and say something.’ My old man went in there, sat down on that stool, did that one take, and now we have ‘Pop’s Rap’ on every album besides Universal Mind Control. - Common

 

“He ain’t know what to say but he just went in there because he can speak. He found his way and that’s the beginning of him finding his way as a writer and artist. He ain’t even know that he would become a writer, but just me saying, ‘Dad go in there and say something on the mic.’

“That’s the lovely thing about recording that album, it was a lot of moments that just happened like the answering machine message [on ‘Another Wasted Nite With...’], what you get on ‘Orange Pineapple Juice,’ and what my father did. It was just moments of being there. It was just those spontaneous things.”

Lonnie “Pops” Lynn: “I was in Chicago and I was in the studio with Common and he was like, ‘Man, you mean to tell me you can’t step to the mic and spit? Ain’t you my father, man?’ Then I said ‘I ain’t got no fear!’ At that very moment, the perspiration was running up my calves just thinking about it. It started off as a fun thing but then I started feeling challenged. 

“It started off as a joke. They were making a ham out of me and I took the bait! [Laughs.] [My mindset going into the booth] was like, ‘Damn! How’d I get in a jam like this?’ [Laughs.] I guess you youngins call it freestyling. I tried to identify my relationship with Chicago. We just did some things off the top of my head, that’s all.

“But I did notice his peers, I watched their reaction and I saw sincerity in the comments they made. Who would think that in 1994 a rapper would put his father on a song? Everybody was acting hard and carrying on, but he called me and was like, ‘Yo Dad I’m putting this on the album. This is good!’

 

I said ‘I ain’t got no fear!’ At that very moment, the perspiration was running up my calves just thinking about it. It started off as a fun thing but then I started feeling challenged. - Lonnie "Pops" Lynn

 

“From that, I learned that if you got the right intentions, you can’t make a mistake. Maybe something won’t rhyme, but if you’re speaking from your heart and it’s what you believe, how are you gonna make a mistake?

No I.D.: “That was the beginning of the series of letting his father be a part of the albums. Common didn’t grow up with his Father like that, so it was always a fun thing to add on to give it its own signature. At that time it wasn’t planned to be a repeated thing, but it gave an extra piece of flavor to the album.

“We didn’t intend for any of this stuff on the album to be what it is today. In my eyes, we were just trying to prove our worth in an industry that didn’t even acknowledge Chicago besides Twista. We were all just fighting for our lives. [Laughs.]

“Twista also had an album called Resurrection that came out at almost the exact same time as Common’s Ressurection [Ed. note: Twista’s Resurrection came out one week before Common’s]. And with me and [Twista’s producer] Legendary Traxster being friends now, we laugh about the fact that we also had a hidden competition. It was just in our Chicago blood to be so competitive with each other.

 

We didn’t intend for any of this stuff on the album to be what it is today. In my eyes, we were just trying to prove our worth in an industry that didn’t even acknowledge Chicago besides Twista. We were all just fighting for our lives. - No I.D.

 

“Me and Traxster would run into each other outside of the city and be like ‘What’s up man, why we not cool, why we not working together?’ So it was more like Twista was the Westside dude, and we were the Southside guys just competing for our lives.

“Blowing up wasn’t really the concept back then, it was just proving that we were good. We’d see certain records that were selling that we knew weren’t competitively good on a hip-hop level. So we saw that people could blow up without being good.

In our minds it was just about proving that we were dope. It wasn’t the money, it was being dope and having that respect. EPMD had a record called ‘Crossover’ and we really believed that—crossing over was a sucker move. Selling records and not being dope was a sucker move.

“Even today I look at music and think ‘Man, a lot of these people suck.’ Why? Because they sell out, and what I mean by that is that they’ll do anything to sell records, that’s what selling out means. It’s selling out the art to make some money. And that’s the thing today. A lot of people are selling records and they’re just wack. Resurrection didn’t sell a lot of records, but people knew we were dope.

“That was the only thing we cared about. My whole career over the span of 20 years has been based on ‘Am I dope?’ I’ve never cared about anything else. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go during this ride. A lot of people who sold way more records than we sold, but they’re not here.

If you’re not dope, you’re not going to survive that long in this business. That’s what Resurrection taught me: Be good in the purist sense and don’t worry about the results. Just be dope and everything will fall into place.”

The Twilite Tone: “I never personally met Rashid’s father, but I loved his voice. Especially on “It’s Your World.” I loved the words that he articulated.

 

With [that album], some of that was the beginning of me being honest with myself, examining myself, and in the same token just living. It’s like living but then you look in the mirror and be like, ‘Okay, this is where I am right now. This is who I am.’ Then you go out and live and come back like, ‘Alright, this is me,’ but you feel good about who you are. - Common

 

Resurrection for me represents cats growing, and breaking through to another level. For me, it was just about exposing people to what we did. It was a testimony of what I did. Don’t think that we were late. Don’t think we needed a New York person to get us up to date. I didn’t go away to an East Coast school and come back to Chicago like, 'This is what’s up.’ Nah man, my cats was on it. Dem Dare, Twilite, Ynot, we were on it. We were really scientists. We was really into it.

“We didn’t have to get signed up by anyone from the East Coast, we signed up ourselves because we had nothing. We had to create it in the first place. We weren’t some country dudes like, ‘Thank you so much for putting us on.’ Like these dudes were teaching us how to read or something. Nah, dude we were reading. Not only were we reading, but we were reading the right shit.”

Derek Dudley: “That was always an essential and monumental piece to any Common album. It was always very important to have him on the album, and keep up that tradition. It was always great to have Pops bless us with his words of wisdom.

“But one thing I wasn’t a fan of, was the record cover. [Laughs.] I was never a huge fan of that. That was the only thing I never liked about that album. It [the cover] was based off some old jazz record. I think Common came up with that. It was too eclectic. It didn’t really complement him well.

"I’m always thinking from a marketing and business standpoint, and you couldn’t see his face. How could anyone have known who he was? But hey, what are you going to do? I always offered my input, but sometimes Common wanted certain things. Sometimes it went my way, other times it didn’t. With any relationship it’s a give and take.

Common: “I wanted to get that honesty that my dad displays. I still work to be as honest as possible. With [that album], some of that was the beginning of me being honest with myself, examining myself, and in the same token just living. It’s like living but then you look in the mirror and be like, ‘Okay, this is where I am right now. This is who I am.’ Then you go out and live and come back like, ‘Alright, this is me,’ but you feel good about who you are.”

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