The Making of Common's "Resurrection"

“Resurrection”

Produced by: No I.D.

Common: “I think it was a different beat to it, originally. I can remember having that music of whatever I wrote to and just wanting to be really dope with the raps like, ‘Man, let me say some stuff.’

“I had a red Toyota Celica GT at the time, so I would drive around. That’s why I say ‘Cruisin’ Southside streets with no heat and no sticker.’ I didn’t have no heat in my car and I didn’t have a [City of Chicago vehicle] sticker. I would drive up and down Lake Shore Drive writing these rhymes and I started writing ‘Resurrection.’

 

Nas’ Illmatic wasn’t out, but I heard Nas on Bobbito & Stretch and I was like, ‘This dude is too good!’ It just made me have to grow quick. I hadn’t heard anybody rapping that good. Every word he was saying and the way he described things was just incredible. It really gave me insight on using my writing skills and poetic skills more. - Common

 

“When I said I was ‘eating beef sometimes’ I was trying to cut back on that shit. I stopped eating beef but I hadn’t done it all the way. I knew I wanted to do that. I stopped eating pork. That was all part of the transition of me growing into who I am now. I could definitely see that. I knew I wanted to be at a higher place, a better place. The change was starting and I could see it, but I wasn’t there yet.

“Another part to this album was the fact that Nas’ Illmatic wasn’t out, but I heard Nas on Bobbito & Stretch and I was like, ‘This dude is too good!’ It just made me have to grow quick. I hadn’t heard anybody rapping that good. Every word he was saying and the way he described things was just incredible. It really gave me insight on using my writing skills and poetic skills more.

“With ‘Resurrection,’ I had some of that in mind as I was playing with words like, ‘I bathe in baselines, rinse in riffs, dry in drums/Come from a tribe of bums, hooked on Negro and Mums.’ Negro was like a little champagne-type drink we would drink. I was just drinking, having fun, writing songs, and messing with girls.

“Once we had the song, we didn’t know what the hook was going to be. Originally, I wanted a scratch from ‘The World is Yours’ because after I wrote the rhyme Illmatic had come out and Nas said, ‘My son, the star, will be my resurrection.’ We wanted to scratch that, but it didn’t come off as well [as we thought it would].

“Either DJ Mista Sinister or No I.D. suggested ‘Nice & Smooth is your resurrection’ and that was so right because the way he was saying ‘resurrection.’ Then, Mr. Sinister could create a rhythm with scratching that we got him eventually after I laid the rhymes to do that ‘resurrection’ scratch.”

No I.D.: “We actually started that song with another beat. This track and ‘Nuthin To Do’ both ended up with different beats. A lot of the songs would start with me just trying to come up with a scratch and a beat.

 

Before that I was just a house music DJ, so when I was working on Can I Borrow A Dollar?, it was more of me digging out of my house crates trying to find samples in there. But after we finished that album, and began work on Resurrection, I’d met the Beatnuts and they taught me how to dig for samples. - No I.D.

 

“We’d felt the pressure of [Nas’] Illmatic coming out, and we were both 'like ‘Okay, it’s time for us to step this up three or four notches.’ I hooked the beat up and once he [Common] heard the ”resurrection”scratch he immediately started writing.

“Before that I was just a house music DJ, so when I was working on Can I Borrow A Dollar?, it was more of me digging out of my house crates trying to find samples in there. But after we finished that album, and began work on Resurrection, I’d met the Beatnuts and they taught me how to dig for samples. This guy V.I.C. that was down with them, Buckwild and Ju Ju (of the Beatnuts)—they were the reason I knew how to dig and make that specific style of hip-hop.

“We recorded the whole album on Long Island at Erick Sermon’s studio. Since our budget was so small, we didn’t work on songs in the studio. We’d work on the songs at home [in Chicago], and we’d just record them at the studio.

“We didn’t actually sit in the studio to listen and write to tracks, it was more like ‘Okay, we’re done writing, now lets go record all the songs at once—then we’ll mix them.’ We’d go to the east coast because they had all the engineers and equipment. They were already prepped in hip-hop. In Chicago at that time there was no real hip-hop studios. The engineers in Chicago were all House music engineers or did jingles or R&B.”

The Twilite Tone: “I think the only input I had on this record was that they used my Nice & Smooth record [Laughs.]. I thought the track was really good, but I loved the Extra P remix. Extra P is one of my favorite producers ever, so I thought that one was a bit harder—but I’m partial to P. [Laughs.] I loved the drums and the sample on the original, but Extra P came with those two versions and it was like ‘Wow.’ I’m not sure how we got Extra P to do those remixes, but I think Peter Kang did that.

“At this point, I was also pursuing a solo career with my group The Late Show, so all of my eggs weren’t in the Resurrection basket. Of course everyone knew me from the work I did with Rashid—the cameo appearances I had with him. One was the b-side of the ‘Soul By The Pound’ single, a song called ‘Can I Bust.’

 

I think I gave Rashid 30 or 40 tracks for this album, and the final result was only two records from me, and No I.D. did the rest. After the last batch of tracks I gave him, he pulled the classic Rashid: “Man, you got any more tracks?” and I was fed up [Laughs.]. I was like ‘You’re tripping man!’ - The Twilite Tone

 

“I think I gave Rashid 30 or 40 tracks for this album, and the final result was only two records from me, and No I.D. did the rest. After the last batch of tracks I gave him, he pulled the classic Rashid: “Man, you got any more tracks?” and I was fed up [Laughs.]. I was like ‘You’re tripping man!’

“I remember I had a conversation with No I.D. and we were supposed to have a lockout [Laughs.], but that didn’t work. So No I.D. finished the album while I was on lockout, and while I finished The Late Show. Even when I was mad at Rashid, I still put my best into it. I’m gonna rise above emotion and give them the best quality products and services I can provide. It’s a reflection on me—I don’t want to look wack. Even though I’m only on two tracks, I think my work speaks for itself.”

Derek Dudley: “My fondest memory of the song is really the video. We did the video over the course of a few days with Nick Quested. We actually met him when he came in to save the ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ video, and we all became friends. So we had him back out to Chicago to shoot ‘Resurrection.’

“We hung out for like four or five days, and took this white English guy all over Chicago. We took him to Cabrini-Green, Stateway Gardens, had him on the L [ train]. It was just him and a camera in the heart of the Southside. We took him to 87th, where we shot the video at Godfather’s on Stony Island.

 

They had a camera in the back of a van, and somebody smashed the window of the van and took the video camera, with the video in it. We’d shot for all this time and then the camera with the video gets stolen. But fortunately, word got around and the camera and its contents were returned safely and we ended up having a video for ‘Resurrection.’ - Derek Dudley

 

“Actually, there was a situation where they had a camera in the back of a van, and somebody smashed the window of the van and took the video camera, with the video in it. We’d shot for all this time and then the camera with the video gets stolen. But fortunately, word got around and the camera and its contents were returned safely and we ended up having a video for ‘Resurrection.’ [Laughs.]

“We also had the Nation of Islam and the F.O.I. (Fruit of Islam) do their routine in the video. It was just monumental. It encompassed everything that we grew up with in Chicago—it was like a tutorial of our view of Chicago at that time. Nick did a great job of capturing the essence of what Chicago was. We had gang handshakes in the video that people had never seen before, and people would ask us questions about that for years. It really helped put the Southside of Chicago on the map.

“We also had Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan in the video, and because he was in it, I got a call from the Hughes Brothers as they were trying to reach him to use him in a documentary they were working on called American Pimp. I got Don on the phone with Allen Hughes and a few years later he was in their documentary movie, American Pimp [Laughs.]. It was an interesting turn of events.”

blog comments powered by Disqus