May 12, 2009

Common (Sense) - Resurrection (October 25, 1994)

With his second album, Resurrection, Common (previously known as Common Sense, which is why I put this album cover up instead of the eventual re-release) branched out of his Chicago home base to earn loyal fans all over the world (thanks to his signature song, "I Used To Love H.E.R.", a tale of the birth, life, and misguiding of hip hop, personified as a young woman so as to make the title seem very clever). He also managed to piss off the entire West Coast: Ice Cube, along with his weed carrier of olde, Mack 10, took offense at the aforementioned song, interpreting it as saying that hip hop was fucked up because of gangsta rap's domination of the sport in the early part of the decade. (I'm sure it couldn't have been the line about how hip hop "was a gangsta, hanging with gangsta bitches", right?)

Resurrection is generally considered a hip hop classic by essentially anyone who follows the genre. Hell, even The Source, which originally only gave Common's sophomore opus a measly three-and-a-half mics (out of five), named it as one of the best hip hop albums ever made. Fans of Lonnie Lynn believe this to be his finest hour, because the production (mostly provided by his hometown homey No I.D.) and the newly confident lyricism (Common abandoned some of his more ridiculous concepts from Can I Borrow A Dollar? and instead brought about a socially conscious artist who still manages to fuck around on a regular basis) collided in a way that would never occur on a consistent basis again.

By the way, Common decimated Ice Cube's taunts on his underground single "The Bitch In Yoo", proving that his character from Street Kings may not have been that far off from real life. Too bad that publicity didn't help Resurrection move many units.

A title track right from the jump? Huh. While this song is a good way to start off your sophomore album (avoiding a shitty rap album intro is the new black), I always felt this song was only alright. For me, this track is best known for inspiring two remixes, the Large Professor version and the Extra P remix, both of which were produced by the same fucking guy, the Large Professor.

This metaphor about hip hop is considered to be one of the greatest rap songs ever made, and this time I agree with the critics. The No I.D. beat is dark but not joyless, complementing the saga of our chosen genre through the ages. I've always kind of hoped that Common would revisit this theme today, given how hip hop seems to be pretty much dead and all (I said seems: I'm fully aware of the name of my blog), but I suppose he's too busy making bad acting decisions (such as Street Kings, although he did come off as more of a badass than The Game in that flick, so I guess that counts for something).

I remember back in the day, when I used to work late night shifts in retail, I would swing by a Wendy's drive-through (spicy chicken sandwiches all the way) on the way home and play Resurrection (not the most obvious choice, I know) while I ate. I always only got this far before I finished the meal completely, so I would then move on to something else. Because of that, I seem to remember this track sounding more interesting than it actually does.

Kind of boring. Sad, but true.

While I liked the brief instrumental at the start more than the actual beat for this song, the track still works, although I preferred No I.D.'s guest spot more so than Common himself, who sounds like he's still trying to test the boundaries of how many syllables he can fit into a single bar.


This song was pleasant enough, but the only thing I can clearly remember is the Ol' Dirty Bastard vocal sample in the hook.

I liked this song, but if Common were a brand new rap artist today, shit like this would quickly categorize him as a “backpacker that won't sell a goddamn copy, not even to himself, but bloggers the world over will praise him” kind of rapper. Crap, I think I just proved my own point.


I love No I.D.'s beat, but the rhymes sound as if Lonnie found some of his old scribblings and decided to recite them in random order, Nas “Book Of Rhymes”-style.


The back and forth between Common and producer Ynot Is engaging, making their take on the overused subject matter sound almost fresh. Not bad.

I just didn't care for this song. It sounds too much like Common was aiming for an audience made up of people that gather at someone's house to get drunk and primp before a night of clubbing, who get so wasted that they can't even leave their host's house, who end up crashing on the floor in a pool of their own vomit and excrement, and when I hear Common, I don't think of that at all.

This is more like the Common I'm used to. The late hip hop writer and fan Dave Ellis titled the editorial section of his site after this song, which may be part of the reason why his was one of the first sites I followed on a regular basis. May he rest in peace.

Common lets his own father in on the action, on what is essentially the outro. There's a nice, simple, melodic beat playing behind him, as well. Pleasant enough.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Resurrection is considered a classic in most hip hop circles, mainly because of the inclusion of “I Used To Love H.E.R.”, which is undoubtedly a great track, but I found there to be a lot of skippable songs, which doesn't make this anywhere near a classic in my eyes. Resurrection is merely a good album. Common was still working out his personal kinks, and he just so happened to do so in the recording booth, with wildly varying results. There are some great songs on here, but as a complete package, this doesn't hold up so well.

BUY OR BURN? I would recommend a purchase, but just barely. Surprised? You shouldn't be: that recommendation is a testament to just how powerful a song “I Used To Love H.E.R.” is. Without that song, this would easily be a burn-only.

BEST TRACKS: “I Used To Love H.E.R.”; “Sum Shit I Wrote”; “Communism”; “In My Own World (Check The Method”


Read up on the Common career trajectory by clicking here.


  1. Whoa! I will respectfully (who does this on the 'net) disagree and say this is a classic. In fact, it is between Resurrection and Like Water For Chocolate for the best album of his career. I might give it to the latter, cause that album was an experience that cannot be matched again but Com Sense (Still use the sense in reference to him). But, all in all, interesting read, nonetheless!!!

    1. I agree that it's in between Resurrection and Like Water for his best material. Max is right though. This album has some superb song and some meh ones.

  2. AnonymousMay 12, 2009

    i used to love h.e.r. isn't a very good song at all. actually i find all of common's work to be pretty boring

  3. Max, I've had your back on a lot of reviews but honestly you fucked up on this one. My favorite album of all time and the best album out of 1994 (Yes kids greater than Illmatic).

  4. borrrrrrinnnnnnnggggggggg album!! neither I i used to love her that good

  5. This album is nothing without I Used to Love H.E.R. I wouldn't even nominate any other songs for Best Tracks.

  6. AnonymousMay 13, 2009

    Max, Its funny because 10 years ago I would have strongly disagreed with your review. But listening to the album now I have to agree with MOST of your review (Orange Pineapple Juice and Maintaing still sound good today). His flow definitely sounds more perfected on the next album "One Day". While "Be" is his best work to date this is still a solid album. But Lion this isn't even in the same class as Illmatic.

  7. I don't see how this is hailed a classic at all. Not even his best album.

  8. AnonymousMay 18, 2009

    Did you mean it when you tagged "book of life" as a boring track?

  9. I agree, good album, but not a classic. I actually prefer No I.D.'s and Ynot's guest spots to Common's verses. Good review.

  10. AnonymousJuly 01, 2009

    Responding to The Lion:

    sorry kido, but back in 94 great albums were released, this album is no where near greater than illmatic, lyrically no, so u might wana digg in your albums box for 94 rap albums because no album that was released at that time is better than illmatic

  11. AnonymousJuly 01, 2009

    this is no where near a classic, this albums only sold good because of the "i used to lover her" track, i aint saying this album is bad, because it aint, its entertaining but this aint commons best album, u want a really tight ass common album check out "One Day it'll All make Sense" common lyrically improved his lyrical ability and his versitality

  12. common's resurrection is the mid west's illmatic. an absolute classic album.

  13. You cats is wildin this album is amazing and a classic in my eyes Book of Lies is the only track I skip on a regular basis. Every other track is a banger

  14. Everyone who has said a bad word about this album are the reason hip hop IS dead. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  15. Really Max? Common isn't a great lyricist on this album, but he flows well over No ID's beats and the result is a very tight, classic album. I think you're just disappointed that this wasn't 15 "I Used to Love H.E.R."s. Especially since you complimented almost every song in your review.

  16. Orange Pineapple Juice is the fucking shit.....

  17. AnonymousMay 03, 2015

    On the real,I think the Extra P Remix of Resurrection is right up there with I Used To Love HER as the two single greatest contributions by Common to hip-hop. Just saying.