Resurrection (Common album)

Resurrection is the second album by American rapper Common (then known as Common Sense). Released in 1994 (see 1994 in music), the album received a great deal of critical acclaim, but not a significant amount of mainstream attention. Resurrection was entirely produced by No I.D. (who also produced the bulk of Can I Borrow A Dollar?), and Ynot. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums.


The album is divided into two sections; the "East Side of Stony" (tracks 1-7) and "West Side of Stony" (tracks 8-15). Stony Island Avenue is a street that runs through the South Side of Chicago, where Common was raised. The closing track, "Pop's Rap" was the first of a series of tracks featuring spoken word and poetry by Common's father, Lonnie "Pops" Lynn, which Common has used to close several of his albums since. Interlaced throughout the album are short interludes which form a loose narrative concerning day-to-day life on the South Side.

Songs such as "Thisisme", are full of self-assessing raps that reflect the rapper's personal growth since 1992's Can I Borrow A Dollar?. Likewise the crasser moments found on that LP, such as a the misogynistic "Heidi Hoe" are greatly toned down for Resurrection, and replaced by thought-provoking narratives such as "Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs. Poor Man)", and "I Used to Love H.E.R." - a song that re-imagines Hip hop as a formerly unadulterated woman, led astray after being enticed by secular elements of life. The use of a conflicted woman as an allegory for Hip hop allowed Common to covertly express his disdain at the music's turn towards gangsta rap inspired content, and what he saw as the resulting reorientation of rap artists.

Incidentally this song, which brought Common to the attention of fans and music critics alike, would also become the cause of a rift between the rapper and West Coast emcee Ice Cube, who took exception to the insinuation that the West Coast pioneered style of gangsta rap was detrimental to Hip hop - even going as far as to claim that Hip hop altogether "started in the West". Together with his Westside Connection compatriots, Cube hurled insults Common's way on the song "Westside Slaughterhouse" and throughout their album Bow Down, to which the rapper replied with the equally venomous "The Bitch in Yoo". In the aftermath of the murders of both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the rivalry would be settled out of public view at a peacemaking function held by Louis Farrakhan at his home.


The lyricism of Resurrection is highly acclaimed, and marked the beginning of Common's reputation as a lyrically challenging artist, and one who is able to lend intellectual weight, and depth to his muses on the human condition. Using a combination of irony and double-entendre, the rapper relates on "Book of Life":

Common's style of delivery, speedy and somewhat erratic on Can I Borrow, is here smoother and more evenly paced. As before he occasionally ventures into a faux-singing mode, albeit less frequently (for example, he quotes the refrain of "Get Up, Stand Up" in "Book of Life"). Many of the songs hooks are provided by scratches and samples.


For Resurrection, producer No I.D. polished up on the production techniques from Can I Borrow, providing for Common, a canvas full of lush jazz samples, deep, throbbing basslines, dusty, thumping drums, and crackling snares. With the majority of tracks handled by one producer (the exceptions being "Chapter 13" and "Sum Shit I Wrote" by Ynot), the album maintains a cohesive feel and fluid sequencing. Fans of No I.D. often cite this album as his best work.

The sounds range from the upbeat ("Communism") to the downbeat (""Nuthin' To Do""), and from the smooth and sleek ("I Used to Love H.E.R."), to the rugged ("Sum Shit I Wrote"). Similar to other Hip hop productions of the time, the sources for many of the samples are from less obvious choices such as The New Apocalypse, and their cover of "Get Out Of My Life, Woman", which is used for the song "Watermelon".

Reception and aftermath

Resurrection is frequently held to be a classic album by rap critics. Many longtime Common fans believe it to be the rapper's best work. This album signified both the arrival of a level of maturity in Common's work, and yet the end of his first phase, which was characterized by a more straightforward, and underground based sound. Subsequent albums by the rapper would see him delving into experimentation and themes such as love, which perhaps marks his second phase.

In the Rolling Stone review Touré wrote of the album: "Resurrection belongs among the best recent hardcore albums: Illmatic, by Nas, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), by Wu-Tang Clan, and Ready to Die, by the Notorious B.I.G.". Despite the acclaim, the album sold poorly, barely charting inside of the Billboard 200 the Album sold 2,000 copies and was dropped from the billboard charts.

Track listing

On vinyl releases, the first seven tracks are considered to be on the 'East Side of Stony' side of the album, while the next eight tracks are on the 'West Side of Stony' side.
# Title Length Performer(s) Producer(s) Samples
1 "Resurrection" 3:47 Common No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "The Signs Pt. II" as performed by David Axelrod
  • Contains sample from "Why Can't People Be Colors Too?" as performed by Whatnauts
  • Contains sample from "Help Is on the Way" as performed by Whatnauts
  • Contains sample from "Dolphin Dance" as performed by Ahmad Jamal
  • Contains sample from "Sorcerer of Isis" as performed by Power of Zeus
  • Contains sample from "Ice" as performed by Spirit

2 "I Used to Love H.E.R." 4:39 Common No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "The Changing World" as performed by George Benson

3 "Watermelon" 2:39 Common Cane

  • Contains sample from "Watermelon Man" as performed by Johnnie Taylor
  • Contains sample from "Sweet Inspiration" as performed by King Curtis
  • Contains sample from "Get Out of My Life, Woman" as performed by The New Apocalypse
  • Contains sample from "Just Rhymin' Wit Biz" as performed by Big Daddy Kane
  • Contains sample from "Just to Get A Rep" as performed by Gang Starr

4 "Book of Life" 5:06 Common No I.D.

5 "In My Own World (Check the Method)" 3:32 Common & No I.D. No I.D.

6 "Another Wasted Nite With..." 1:02 Common
7 "Nuthin' to Do" 5:20 Common No I.D.

8 "Communism" 2:16 Common No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "The Surest Things Can Change" as performed by Freddie Hubbard
  • Contains sample from "Knocking 'Round the Zoo" as performed by James Taylor

9 "WMOE" :24 Common & Mohammed Ali No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "Capricorn" as performed by Cannonball Adderley
  • Contains sample from "Las Vegas Tango" as performed by Gary Burton

10 "Thisisme" 4:54 Common No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "Power of Love" as performed by Alton McClain & Destiny
  • Contains sample from "Momma Miss America" as performed by Wings
  • Contains sample from "Build and Destroy" as performed by KRS-One

11 "Orange Pineapple Juice" 3:28 Common No I.D.

12 "Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs. Poor Man)" 5:23 Common & Ynot Ynot

  • Contains sample from "Cross Country" as performed by Archie Whitewater
  • Contains sample from "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" as performed by Big Daddy Kane
  • Contains sample from "The Message" as performed by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

13 "Maintaining" 3:49 Common No I.D.

14 "Sum Shit I Wrote" 4:31 Common Ynot
15 "Pop's Rap" 3:22 Lonnie "Pops" Lynn No I.D.

  • Contains sample from "Momma Miss America" as performed by Wings

Chart positions

Album chart positions

Year Album Chart positions
Billboard 200
1994 Resurrection #179

Singles chart positions

Year Song Chart positions
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales
1994 "I Used to Love H.E.R." #91 #31 #34
1995 "Resurrection" #88 #22 #13


  • The album was originally released under Common's original stage name, "Common Sense." However, the "Sense" has since been dropped from the album's listings because of a legal case between Common and a ska band named Common Sense
  • The song "Thisisme" is used as the name for Common's greatest hits compilation, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common.


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