Common arrived on the hip-hop scene of the early-Nineties as Common Sense, a post-Native Tongues rapper who offered an alternative to the prevailing gangsta fare of contemporaries like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. With space-age effects, old-school beats, jazz- and funk-influenced musical bedding and lyrics that often come off like spoken-word poetry, he helped kick off an underground hip-hop movement that would gain steam — and new rappers — by the latter part of the decade.

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