The Corner

Common, 2005

In what ways has Common's life been different from the lives of many of the people he raps about in this song?

Common raps that he wishes he "could give you this feeling." What is the feeling he is describing? Who does he want to share it with?

Why does Common focus on "the corner" in this song? What happens there? What has the corner meant to him and his community?

What are the Rock of Gibraltar, Stonehenge, and the Taj Mahal? Why do you think Common compares his corner to them?

"The Corner" performed by Common on Be. Sony, © 2005. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube (official video).

For more information about Common, visit his official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

Explicity lyrics

Common, whose given name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., was born in Chicago in 1972 and grew up in the predominantly African American south side of the city. Although his parents divorced when he was young and he was raised by his mother and his stepfather, Common's father remained an important part of his life. A minor league basketball player, his father helped him get a job as a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls when he was twelve. Common regularly attended church and was inspired by the local minister, who celebrated the African American ancestries of the congregation. He writes in his autobiography, "From the Ethiopian crosses that adorned the structure to the African scenes depicted in the stained glass, this was a house of worship dedicated to sustaining the community and connecting it with its Christian roots" (45).

Although he had his youthful transgressions and participated in gang life in Chicago, he did well in school and became a successful rapper and actor. His first album was Can I Borrow a Dollar? (1992), which he recorded under the stage name Common Sense. In 1997 he released his first album under the name Common, One day it'll all make sense. He had his first mainstream hit in 2000 with the single "The Light," which was released on the album Like Water for Chocolate. Since then he has become a Grammy Award– and Academy Award–winning musician and has appeared in numerous movies and television series.

The Corner album cover
"The Corner" album cover.

In "The Corner" Common reflects on his youth in Chicago. "The Corner" samples two songs from his childhood: "What It Is" (1972), by the Temptations, and "You Make the Sunshine" (1974), by the Temprees. He addresses some of the challenges he faced growing up in an environment surrounded by drug use and street violence, and he takes pride in how he overcame obstacles to have a successful career. He wishes more people from his neighborhood could be successful and proud like him. He also looks back with nostalgia as he remembers the pride that the people felt in their community and the support he received. He wishes more people could experience that sense of pride.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas



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