Across his nearly 25-year recording career, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. a.k.a. Common Sense a.k.a. Common has cultivated one of the most vital and vibrant discographies in hip-hop history, with 1994’s Resurrection and 2000’s Like Water for Chocolate both commanding masterpiece status.
In recent years, Common has successfully stretched himself beyond music alone to become a bona fide multimedia heavyweight, with a broad array of film and television roles under his belt. Moreover, he has remained passionately active in a handful of philanthropic efforts, most notably the Chicago-based Common Ground Foundation that aims to “use creative arts to expose youth to new opportunities.”
But at his core, Common remains an emcee by trade, and one of the finest, most thoughtful lyricists working today. And there’s no better evidence that his penchant for powerful narrative and rhyme is still thrillingly intact than yesterday’s arrival of Black America Again, his eleventh studio album and strongest long player since 2007’s Finding Forever.
Featuring stellar and provocative collaborations with Stevie Wonder (the impassioned title track), John Legend (“Rain”), Bilal (A Bigger Picture Called Free,” “Letter to the Free”), BJ the Chicago Kid (“The Day Women Took Over”) and The Internet’s Syd (“Red Wine,” “A Bigger Picture Called Free”), Black America Again finds its creator in signature, standout form.
In conjunction with the album’s release, Common has unveiled a short film executive produced by director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) and directed by Selma's lead cinematographer Bradford Young. Beautifully shot in black-and-white, the stark yet salient 22-minute video is a poignant homage to the enduring grace and resilience that defines the Black experience in America, in the face of ever-persistent inequality and injustice.