Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972), better known by his stage name Common (formerly Common Sense), is an American rapper, actor, film producer and poet from Chicago, Illinois. Common debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians.
In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint, and, in the past, has released music under various other labels such as Relativity, Geffen and GOOD Music, among others.
Common’s first major-label album, Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and tremendous commercial success. His first Grammy Award was in 2003, winning Best R&B Song for “Love of My Life”, with Erykah Badu. Its popularity was matched by May 2005’s Be, which was nominated for Best Rap Album, at the 2006 Grammy Awards.
He was awarded a second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for “Southside” (featuring Kanye West), from his July 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of album, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common, was released on November 27, 2007.
Common won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song, for his song “Glory” from the 2014 film Selma, in which he co-starred as Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel. Common’s acting career also includes starring significant roles in the films Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, New Year’s Eve, Run All Night, Being Charlie, and John Wick: Chapter 2. He also narrated the award-winning documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man’s efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He starred as Elam Ferguson on the AMC western television series Hell on Wheels.
Common was born on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. He was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood. He is the son of educator Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines and former ABA basketball player turned youth counselor Lonnie Lynn. They divorced when he was six years old, resulting in his father’s moving to Denver, Colorado.
This left Common to be raised by his mother, but his father remained active in his life and landed Lonnie Jr. a job with the Chicago Bulls during his teens. While a student at Luther High School South in Chicago, Lynn with his friends, record producer and Corey Crawley formed C.D.R. a rap trio that opened for acts that included N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane.
Common attended Florida A&M University for two years under a scholarship and majored in business administration. After being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine, Lynn debuted in 1992 with the single “Take It EZ”, followed by the album Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under stage name Common Sense.