One Day It'll All Make Sense

One Day It'll All Make Sense


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From the hip hop icon, Hollywood star, and “a true artist and writer of deep talent” (James McBride, author of The Color of Water)—a candid, New York Times bestselling memoir ranging from his childhood on Chicago’s South side and his emergence as one of rap’s biggest names.

Common has earned a reputation in the hip-hop world as a conscious artist by embracing themes of love and struggle in his songs. His journey toward understanding is rooted in his relationship with a remarkable woman, his mother.

Common holds nothing back in this gripping memoir, both provocative and funny. He tells what it was like for a boy with big dreams growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He reveals how he almost quit rapping after his first album sold only two thousand copies. He recounts his rise to stardom and talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love, and family. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full. Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son, and friend. His story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451625882
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 09/18/2012
Pages: 305
Sales rank: 62,374
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Common was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn in Chicago March 13, 1972. Best known as a star recording artist and actor, he has also independently published children’s books. He has a daughter Omoye Assata Lynn, born in 1997.
Adam Bradley is the author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop and the co-editor of Ralph Ellison's Three Days Before the Shooting..., and Yale Anthology of Rap. He lives in Boulder with his wife.

Read an Excerpt


Dear Reader:

When I was eighteen months old, my mother and I were kidnapped at gunpoint. My father held the gun.

At least that’s one side of the story. I first heard about it all from my aunt long after it happened, when I was already a grown man. I asked my mother, and she told it to me one way. I asked my father, and he told it to me another. The story I’ll tell you begins where my mother’s and my father’s tales come together and continues past them into the separate corners of my parents’ truths. Somehow in telling it, the story becomes my own. Somehow in telling it, it all starts to make sense.

My father, Lonnie Lynn, was a Chicago playground legend. They called him the Genie because he’d make the basketball disappear right before your eyes then make it reappear at the bottom of the net. At six foot eight, he had NBA size and the skills to match. He was nice around the rim and had a sweet stroke from inside eighteen feet. But he talked back to coaches. He missed practice. He developed a habit. He was out of the league before his career really began. For all his gifts, he played just one year of professional basketball, for the Denver Rockets and the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA.

Around the same time, his relationship with my mother was falling apart. He was getting high, keeping drugs right out in the open on the nightstand. He’d react to the slightest provocation. One time my mother locked him out of our apartment, and he shot out all the windows. When he was sober, he was a loving man, but when he was high, he was somebody else.

“I was out of basketball,” my father later told me. “I was struggling. My lowest point came in December of 1972, when you were nine months old. I weighed one hundred ninety-five pounds, less than I had coming out of high school. That’s what the drugs had done—or, rather, what I had done with the drugs. By the time I got back to Chicago, I was back near my playing weight at two hundred thirty-five pounds. I was ready for my last chance.”

His last chance came with a tryout for the Seattle SuperSonics. They knew about my dad’s past troubles, and they were concerned. They wanted to know he was a family man. Problem was, my folks were separated, heading toward divorce. So, early one morning, my father packed everything he owned into the backseat of a rented Dodge Charger and drove to Eighty-eighth and Dorchester in Chicago’s South Side, where my mother and I lived.

Here is where my parents’ stories diverge. “He took us out of the house at gunpoint, handcuffed me to the front seat, put you in the back, and started driving across the country to Seattle,” my mother says.

“You and your mother got in the front seat with me,” my father recalls, “and we started out on Interstate 90 heading west.”

I can imagine my mother seething inside—not panicked, not defeated—waiting for her moment. My father must have known this too. Part of him might even have feared her, a strange thing since he was the one at the wheel. She had this indomitable spirit; it only grew stronger when she felt her child was in danger.

What could she do? When we stopped for gas, she says he handcuffed her to the steering wheel. When she needed to use the restroom, she says he stood outside the door. The situation must have looked hopeless to her.

My mother escaped with me early one Sunday morning. She recalls my father pulling off the highway to get gas; there were no plans to stop for food, no plans to sleep. She complained of a headache and asked my father to bring her something for the pain.

He came back to the car with a bottle of pills. My mother took two like the container directed then somehow managed to put the rest in his can of Coke as he gassed up the car. When he got back in, he took a big swig of soda then threw the can out the window. It wasn’t long before he started feeling the effects.

“Did she drug me? I don’t know,” my father told me later. “All I know is that I made the decision that it was better to sleep during the day and drive at night while you were sleeping.”

We stopped at a roadside motel on the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin. I wonder what people saw when they looked at us. A beautiful family on a cross-country trip? A doting mother holding her child? A loving husband clutching his wife close by his side? Did they see the family we were or the family we might have been?

My mother told me that my father had just enough time to handcuff her to the bed, sit me on the couch, strip off some of his clothes, and fall onto the mattress, his feet dangling off the edge. Soon he was snoring away. Once he was fast asleep, my mother says she started working her small hand against the cuff, folding her fingers in on themselves and pulling until metal scraped skin.

“Rashid,” she said in a stage whisper. “Rashid, baby, go outside and play. Mommy will be there soon.”

Something in her eyes must have told me, young as I was, that this was no time for games. I followed her instructions and slipped out the door. Her hand finally free, my mother followed after me. She made it to the lobby and told the man working there to call the police.

“Next thing I know,” my father now says, “I wake up and there are two policemen standing over my bed. One of them’s got a shotgun on me. The other’s pointing a pistol. I raised my hands up above my head and turned my eyes to the sky. I can remember seeing a teardrop of water falling down from that low, low ceiling. That’s when I cried out: ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’

“It was all over the radio, the television, the newspaper. ‘Kidnapping,’ in capital letters. But I was in jail only overnight. They released me the next morning without charges.”

Madison, Wisconsin, is one hundred sixty-three miles from the South Side of Chicago and nearly two thousand miles from Seattle. The road trip, the kidnapping, my father’s dream—whatever you call it—it was over almost as soon as it had started.

Can a story you’ve only overheard somehow still give shape to your life? Can other people’s stories also be your own? Hearing this was like discovering a lost piece of my past, like having my life told as legend. Could it have really happened? Part of me figured that when I asked my parents about it, they’d deny it. But when I asked each of them, they confirmed it—even if they told their stories in a different key.

They say trauma always accompanies birth, the beginning of new life. When I think about my parents and me driving toward my father’s dream, I think about what it means to bear the legacy of these two people who were estranged from each other before I was born but remain tied together because I was born. It speaks to me about connections, willing and not. It speaks to the fact that when you try to tell your own story, you can’t help but tell someone else’s along the way. This is my life, my story, but it’s their story too.

I think of my mother, a young woman with a child at the time threatened by a man she still loves. Maybe that’s why she’s always loved me so hard, like she could lose me at any moment. Today she is a mother, a grandmother, my best friend.

I think about my father and how his inner pains and self-doubt sometimes expressed themselves in ways he couldn’t control. What possesses a man to aim a gun at the woman he loves and the child he helped conceive? If not the gun, then what possesses him to pursue a dream past all consequence? Today he is a thinker, a dreamer, a complex soul.

Who knows the truth of the story? My truth is this: I inherited love and trouble, joy and fear. I experienced all of these things before I could even put them into words. The story I have to tell you is one of inheritance and identity, of the values my mother passed on to me that I hope to pass on to my daughter, Omoye. The story is of making myself into the man that I want to be: an artist, a father, a child of God.

When I was given the opportunity to write this book, I had some misgivings. Had I lived enough? Would anyone want to hear my story? When I think of memorable life stories, I think of great men and women looking back over the decades. I think of Malcolm X and Assata Shakur. I think of Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela. What story does a kid from the South Side of Chicago have to tell?

So I talked with friends. I talked with my mother, my father, my grandmother, my daughter. We laughed, we reminisced, we even shed a few tears. At a certain moment, I took in a breath, I breathed it out, and I knew that I had lived a life I wished to share. I knew that if I dedicated myself to writing about my life, it might all start to make sense.

I’ve always loved to write. It must have started with my mother. She still has a note I wrote to her when I was six or seven years old about leaving the key so she could get in the house and how I didn’t want to get a whippin’. She tells me that’s my first letter.

In school, I’d write love letters to cute girls in class. When I first started rapping, I’d write my lyrics in a composition book. As I grew older, I’d write my hopes, fears, and dreams in a journal. I still write to this day, even to people who are part of my everyday life—my mother, my daughter, my friends. I may be a talker just like my dad, but I love to express myself through letters. Maybe I write because I’ve learned to show certain parts of my heart on the page that I still struggle to capture in speech.

That’s why I’ve decided to begin each chapter of this book with a letter. In these pages, I’ve written to my mother and to my daughter and to many others—to you, to lost friends, to distant lovers, to future generations. Each letter offers a way into the stories of my life that follow. Together they tell a story of their own, of a life still very much in the making.

I have loved and lost and given and failed and fallen and prayed and believed and worked and sexed and proved and listened and traveled and healed and grown and watched and journeyed and loved again and grown some more. I’ve done all of these things and all of these things have created the man that I am today.

I also realize that my life is an expression of all those I have known and all who have known me. They are people in and out of the public eye. They are friends and fans and lovers and mentors. They are people like my mother and my grandmother and the guy I only ever knew as Duck, who was on the street but used to say that one day I’d be a star. People like Yusef and Ajile and the bellman at the House of Blues Hotel in Chicago who always had a kind word when I arrived.

My life is people like Omoye, Murray, Kanye, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Maya Angelou, my father, Mike Jolicoeur, Dion, Dart, Ron, Rasaan, Monard, and the memory of another South Side son named Emmett Till. All of these people are a part of me as I am a part of them. Their souls have joined with mine. In fact, sometimes when I’m writing songs I find myself looking through their eyes, expressing what I believe they might see and feel.

You’ll hear some of these other voices threading in and out of the pages that follow. Other than my own, the voice you’ll most often hear is that of my mother. It’s only right given that my mother has been—and remains—the most influential person in my life. Throughout the chapters, you’ll find her speaking in her own words directly to you through italicized text, offering perspectives on my past that complement and occasionally even contradict the view of my life as I see it.

I’m writing you now because I know I have something to say to you. I believe we can forge a connection that will help us to recognize the other in the self. I know I can enlighten. I know I can inspire. And I know that this journey is not just about what I think about myself. It’s not about how many records I’ve made or how many films I’ve done. It’s about what has happened in my life that can spark you to be better in yours. What have I said and done, what have I failed to say and failed to do, that will give you insight as you strive to reach your full potential and serve your purpose on this earth?

So I hope this letter finds you in the place where you are willing and ready to progress in your life. I hope this book not only entertains you but also helps you grow in a spirit of openness. I write to you wishing, praying, and sending the best love to you. This is my story, the story of an uncommon life.



© 2011 Think Common Music

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Prologue 1

1 "Love Is " 9

2 "G.O.D. (Gaining One'S Definition)" 33

3 "Pop's Rap" 57

4 "Reminding Me (Of Sef)" 77

5 "Take It Ez" 107

6 "I Used To Love H.E.R."135

7 "Retrospect For Life" 167

8 "Dooinit" 189

9 "Love of My Life" 209

10 "It's Your World" 227

11 "The Light" 257

12 "The Dreamer.. The Believer" 277

Epilogue 301

Acknowledgments 305

Reading Group Guide

Topics & Questions for Discussion

Common opens his autobiography with descriptions of his family from two polar perspectives. He wonders what others saw when they looked at his family. At this point in the autobiography, how do you perceive his family?

Writing seems to be freeing to Common. What does writing do for you? What do you do to free yourself?

In the letter to his mother, Common writes, “Thank you for being my mother before you became my best friend.” Do you sometimes feel that your parents don’t understand you? Do you want your parents to be your friend so that they can better understand you? Why or why not? Why do you think that parents can’t be their children’s friends?

Common states in the letter to his mother that the most important lesson he learned from her was to care for others. What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from one of your parents thus far?

Why do you think that Common was confused by his father’s absence when he was a child? Why do you think it was easier for him to be angry instead of confused? Has there ever been in time in your life when it was easier to be angry than confused?

When Rashid analyzed his father’s lack of parenting, he had to reflect on his own lack of parenting. He wrote, “It was never for lack of love, but for lack of fight. I haven't fought at certain times to be around her.” Wouldn’t love make you fight for your child? What emotion—love or fear—did Rashid allow to influence his decision-making as a parent?

Common uses the term “nigga” 44 times in this book. During various interviews, Common has been asked about his use of the word. Common’s defense has been that the word is a term of endearment. Research terms of endearment. Explain at least three terms. Research the origin of the word “nigga”. How does "nigga" compare to the other terms of endearment that you identified? Do you think African-American youths understand the nature of the word? Why or why not? Do you think anyone should use the word? Why or why not? Do you think African- Americans should use the word with each other? Why or why not?

Read page 144. Why do you think Common felt like giving up at that point in his career? What emotion—love or fear—dominated his decision?

Do you think the song “I Used to Lover H.E.R.” played an unintentional role in the East Coast— West Coast war? Why or why not?

Common states that whenever he needs to remove something or someone from his life in order to succeed, he does it. What are you willing to remove from your life in order to be successful? How could those things hinder you from being successful?

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One Day It'll All Make Sense 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
I love common as a rapper and an actor, but his memoir made me love him as a person. He keeps it straight (no chasers) just the way i like. I think he was honset. I think he was funny. He was loving. It gives his fans a chance to see rashid. Although he strives to show that rashid and common are one in the same, there are times when you see both paths separate. He was vulnerable on every level. Great read!
ronnybahamas More than 1 year ago
This book is emotionally, and spiritually powerful. It touched my soul and inspired me to be driven in life with a positive purpose. I love his music because it enlightens the mind. He is a good man because he admits his flaws and his relationship with his mother and friends makes him even more than common but rare. I admire his passion and will continue to support anything he does.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been wanting to read this book for a while now because I love Common and his work and I recently saw Adam Bradley speak, and he is incredible. I just felt kind of like the book consisted of a lot of... bragging and it seemed really showy. I know that Rashid and his mom did not mean for the book to come off that way, but I just found it kind of annoying. I am glad that I read it though, and I still have so much respect for Common and everything he does.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Common or should I say Rashid took me on a journey through his life and career. He was open and honest and shared very intimate details that allowed me as a reader to feel as though I was right beside him in certain instances. The comments and recollections by his mother helped to give me a thorough understanding of Rashid and his character as a man.
That1Girl More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Common fan and this book only gave me more insight on his journey. I enjoyed reading from beginning to end.
Burney_Brownfan More than 1 year ago
I am so impressed with Common. I have never been a big follower of his music or rap for that matter. I did like "the Light" video and hook. This book made me want to check out everything he has ever put his voice on. I even went back and looked and really listen to the lyrics of "The Light" Wow he is the truth and his mother I totally fell in love with. I have found a new love and his name is Commom! you have to get this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was written in a differnt way, and he provided so much detail about himself, you start to feel a personal connection with him. I is very honest and open about everything. I would say read it, because his journey was not what you would expected and his perspective is very interesting- when discussing himself and others. No relationship is off limits
Carla Louis More than 1 year ago
This made me love Common even more!!! Such a beautiful soul!
Nashax More than 1 year ago
Ok lets start by saying I already had an opinion on this book before purchase. I'am a bit shocked on how much of a good read this is. Iam a fan of him as an artist but many in his industry try the whole "Im a writer" deal and FAIL. I can honestly say that I did enjoy the book and it was refreshing to see a man of his nature who is not a typical rapper become a diverse artist who can write. Kudos Common from a true critic and a fan :-) - check me out on the cover of godforsaken by Leo Anthony doing the same new author deal-a talented young monority!!! * Anasha C.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From struggle to success  Like many rappers common was not rich from the start but he worked hard all his life and pursed his dream. This book covers all of his troubles and all of his glories a great read overall. 
Gemami More than 1 year ago
I have read a few autobiologies by rappers and feel they write for a younger audience... preteen or young adult. I was expecting Common's autobiology to be different but it wasn't. The language and depth was very elementary and I think, even hoped Common would have dugged deeper. With that sait, it was still a good read, a little slow at times, but mostly I loved his mother's comments and opinions.
OOSABookClub More than 1 year ago
You may not know who Rashid Lonnie Lynn is, but if you've listened to the radio, saw a movie, or even watched television, you know him as Common, a rapper and actor from the Southside of Chicago. What many may not be aware of is that Common is more than rhymes and beats. An activist, son, father and friend, Common opens up about his life and the many challenges he's faced. Through personal letters, Common introduces the reader to his main topic. Then his mother, Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines, relives her side of this particular time in Common's life. In the end, Common uses what's gone on in his life and what he's learned through this time, what he's lost, and how he's grown. It's easy to not only see how his life was impacted, but you feel as if you're right there through the struggle. I really enjoyed ONE DAY IT'LL ALL MAKE SENSE. It’s no secret, I'm a huge fan of Common. I love that he's a fellow Chicagoan, he's humble and hardworking. This is definitely a book parents can share with their teens. Reviewed by: Crystal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always been a fan of common, and always wondered who is this rapper that dont curse. Seeing that made me actally listen to what he had to say. Very intelligent. This book is a good read and I plan to continue to support!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was taken aback by how captivating this book became in a very short time. I literally couldn't put it down. Common allows you a chance to be lost in his life as he tells of his childhood and coming of age. The spin on this book that touched me so much is his mothers point of view and the bond that they share. It left me feeling enlightened and eager to leave my mark on the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I began this book, it took me a few days to convince myself that Rashid wasnt telling my story. Then I felt a connection that I will always glad he shared. By the way I was born only one day before him. Thanks to both Rashid and his Mom.
Tobi_heg More than 1 year ago
It was surprisingly a well written autobiography by "Common". I now look at the rapper, actor, songwriter, and now author in a different and new lite. I am a big fan and now after getting to him better by this book, I will always be a fan. It's a good book. Will recommend to any fan or friend to buy and read "One Dayit Will all make Sense.
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Truly enjoyed reading this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The look inside the mind and heart of a conscious rapper. Very good read!
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