Published by Atria Books on September 2011
Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
Source: my shelves
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I don’t know what I was expecting when I bought a copy of Common‘s new book back in September. Honestly, buying this book was just another way for me to support a man who has been one of my favorite rappers since 1995–the year I was introduced to his music and bought his second album, Resurrection. I’m not typically a fan of celebrity memoirs, and although One Day It’ll All Make Sense was co-written with Adam Bradley, I wasn’t sure about Common’s book-writing abilities. The man writes and spits amazing verses, but writing a book is very different territory. I was interested in what he had to say, but I was afraid the delivery wouldn’t be up to my rather high standards. I finally got around to reading One Day I’ll All Make Sense last month, and I needn’t have feared–this is a good book.
From the inside flap:
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, Mahalia Ann Hines.
In One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common holds nothing back. 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, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, sold only two thousand copies. He recounts his rise to stardom, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the recording studios, concerts, movie sets, and after-parties of a hip-hop celebrity and movie star. He reflects on his controversial invitation to perform at the White House, a story that grabbed international headlines. And he talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love, and fatherhood.
One Day I’ll All Make Sense is a gripping memoir, both provocative and funny. Common shares never-before-told stories about his encounters with everyone from Tupac to Biggie, Ice Cube to Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela. Drawing upon his own lyrics for inspiration, he invites the reader to go behind the spotlight to see him as he really is–not just as Common but as Lonnie Rashid Lynn.
[…]Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full. Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son, and friend. Common’s story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found between the covers of this book.
The book opens with a Foreword from Common’s mother, Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines, and she is just a wonderful woman. Common has become the man he is today because of his relationship with her and the lessons she taught him (and continues to teach him, I’m sure). She is intelligent, funny, caring, and tough. We don’t hear from her only in the Foreword, though; the book is interspersed with passages she wrote, giving us her thoughts on many of the stories told by Common. I thought this was a nice touch–our egos tend to make us view our life circumstances in very specific, self-centered ways, and Common choosing to tell us about his life from his perspective and from a more objective viewpoint really shows how seriously he took this project. Maybe he learned a little more about himself this way, too.
Common begins each chapter of the book with a letter he has written, addressed to an important person in his life and foreshadowing the topic of that chapter. He writes to people who are still alive and to people from his past who have died. These letters give what is otherwise a basic let-me-tell-you-about-my-life memoir a much more personal feel. I really enjoyed reading about his childhood in Chicago, including how he met and became friends with guys like Derek Dudley–who would later become his manager–and Dion Wilson (better known as No I.D.). The hardest letter/chapter combination for me to read (emotionally) was the one written for J Dilla. I guess I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) that he and Common were such good friends, and I had no idea that he had gone to live with Common when his (Dilla’s) health started to go downhill. It was hard to read about Dilla’s death from such a personal point of view.
The only parts of the book I didn’t enjoy were those about his random sexual activity–I’m pretty sure I could have lived without knowing some of that stuff, and I’m pretty sure the book would have been just as good without those stories. On the other hand, Common wanted to write a book showing us his journey to becoming the person he is today, and his sexual conquests and the lessons they taught him are all a part of that journey. I personally could have done without them, though.
Overall, this was a good book. Common has led a very interesting life and there was so much I didn’t know about him before reading One Day It’ll All Make Sense. Although the book tells us about his rise to fame as a performer, it really reads more like a coming-of-age story and I really liked that. Again, reading the passages his mother wrote was a wonderful experience. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s into Common’s music or his acting, and who’s interested in learning more about him on a personal level.
(As a side note: if you’re into Common’s music and you haven’t bought his latest album, The Dreamer/The Believer, you’re missing out. The “old” Common is back and the album is fantastic.)