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Bethlehem, Pa., October 13, 2005—Hip-hop recording artist Common will perform at Moravian College with special guest Rahzel on Friday, November 18, 8 p.m. in Johnston Hall. General admission is $25. Tickets are on sale in the College Bookstore, located on the lower level of the Haupert Union Building and online at http://www.moravian.musictoday.com/. Johnston Hall is located on Moravian’s Main Street Campus, near the corner of Locust and Monocacy Streets in Bethlehem.
Common was born Lonnie Rashied Lynn in Chicago in 1972. He won Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype Contest under the name Common Sense in 1991, which opened the door for him to release his first album, Can I Borrow a Dollar? The album, which was released by Combat, featured his debut single “Take It EZ” as well as “Soul by the Pound” and “Breaker 1/9.” Common Sense quickly became known in the hip-hop underground for his intelligent, politically-minded lyrics.
In 1994, Common Sense released Resurrection under Ruthless Records. One of the tracks, “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” caused a brief rift with Ice Cube. The success of the album caused the artist to be sued by a ska band of the same name. As a result, the rapper changed his name to Common and moved to Brooklyn. He also switched to Ruthless’ parent label, Relativity, with which he recorded One Day It’ll All Make Sense in 1997. It was a standard for the intelligent hip-hop movement of that time and contained guest appearances by Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, De La Soul, Erykah Badu (to whom Common would later be engaged for a short time), Cee-Lo, and the Roots’ Black Thought.
By this time Common had such a large underground following, causing MCA to sign him. In 2000 he released Like Water for Chocolate. It was Common’s most successful album to that date, and the single “The Light” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. Guest artists for the disc included Macy Gray, MC Lyte, Cee-Lo, Mos Def, D’Angelo, Roy Hargrove, and Femi Kuti. He followed up that success with Electric Circus in 2002. Electric Circus received mixed reviews; however, it was more personal than Common’s previous releases.
This May Common released Be, which went certified gold. The album has received rave reviews and has also been successful in the United Kingdom. Be was produced in part by popular hip-hop artist Kanye West. The first hit from the record was “Go”, a collaboration with John Mayer. “Testify” also saw time on the US R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
In addition to his own albums, Common has several guest credits. These include Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor, Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Black Star, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, and Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama. He also worked with Sadat X on “1-9-9-9” for Rawkus Records’ Soundbombing Vol. 2.
Opening for Common will be Rahzel, who is known in the hip-hop world as the undisputed “Godfather of Noyze.” A self-defined “vocal percussionist, Rahzel is best known as a member of The Roots, one of hip hop’s cutting-edge live bands. A glance at Rahzel’s musical influences speaks to his appreciation for the art of making music. He draws from the line of Doug E. Fresh/Biz Markie, of Bobby McFerrin, and of Al Jarreau. He explains: “With my vocal percussions, I want to bridge the gap among various musical genres. I want the beat box to be respected as a true art form.”
The concert, sponsored by the College’s student-run Concert Committee, will be held in Johnston Hall, Monocacy and Locust Streets, Moravian College Main Campus. For more information, please contact the HUB desk at (610) 861-1491 or visit Moravian College on the Web at www.moravian.edu.