18. Common "Resurrection" (1994)
Producer: No I.D.
If you had 15 songs to show the world your city, where would you start? Would you show them all the places where your life unfolded—where you picked up girls and got into fistfights? Would you show them the workings of the dangerous corners? Or would you just take them for a bite at your favorite street cart? Common does all of this on Resurrection, but before he gives you a tour of his life or even his city, you just do nothing. On the opening title song, the rhythm of his raps acclimates the listener to the pace of his place, because this is an album in which the amorphous forms of music are as much a part of the urban landscape as any street or skyscraper: "I bathe in bass lines, rinse in riffs, dry in drums, come from a tribe of bums." As the song winds down, you're with Common in the situation from where all this urban storytelling flowed: cruising the cold streets of Southside Chicago in an unregistered car with no heat. —Sam Sweet