“This Is Me…”
Words by Chris Smith
Sometimes, the summer doesn't become really real to you until it becomes your own. For everyone, that starts in high school. Your parents allow you more freedom. You get a summer job. You don't necessarily get pulled along on family vacations. You get a chance to have summer become a part of you, from the clear blue skies to the sweltering heat to the black streets. For me, the summer truly became a season of definition for me back in 1994. I had finished my junior year of high school with some ease. One thing that I could always connect with cats on was hip-hop in all of its varieties. From time to time, I would take some of my small change and head over to Hott Waxx on Jamaica Avenue. Hott Waxx was a wonderland to me, tucked into the back of an electronics store. It was the place to go for mixtapes by Doo Wop and Dirty Harry, albums you knew cats weren't up on like Eightball & MJG and you could even catch a famous face or two up there like Craig G. On this Saturday though, I was only searching for one album - Common's Resurrection.
I had gotten the cassette single for "I Used to Love H.E.R." and it blew me away. So I paid for the album, headed to the bus stop to go home and once on the bus, I popped the tape in. From the first opening notes, I knew this album was going to change me forever. Thinking back on it now, each track made the summer that much better and connected to some part of me. 'Communism' was a song that I'd play while on the 109th Avenue Bridge that led to Belmont Racetrack at night, thinking about stuff at home or issues with some girl. 'Nuttin' to Do' was the song that captured the essence of the situations that me and the cats I came up with got into. I remember that jam being on the stereo in someone's backyard during a barbecue where this girl fell off someone's Ninja motorcycle which thwarted our attempts to snatch a bottle of Bacardi. "This Is Me" was for those quiet moments when I didn't know who or what I was going to be, let alone if I was going to get past the speedtraps that await young black men in this country.
Resurrection was an album that stood out for me because it continued in the same jazzy vein of hip hop championed at the time by groups like the Roots, Pete Rock & C.L.Smooth and others. No I.D.'s thought provoking production wraps perfectly around Common's introspective lyrics. Common (who was in the legal battle over his name change from Common Sense at this time) would use this album as a significant step towards the MC he is today which is remarkable if you remember his first album in its entirety. The wordplay and metaphors he used on this album were two steps ahead of his previous work.
This album marked a change in the way I saw things, even though I didn't fully pick up on it then. The music and the messages got me to think about things that were greater than trying to feel up on around the way girls, getting nice and looking fly. It opened me up to the world and in turn, it helped me to appreciate the soul within the world and me.
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