Common Drops ‘Retrospect for Life': July 29 Hip-Hop History
On this day we celebrate the birth of one of music's most memorable voices, remember a Common classic and party with Andre 3000 and John Legend.
1972- Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men is Born
Boyz II Men singer, Wayna Morris was born on this day in 1972. As a lead singer for Boyz II Men, Morris would go on to set Billboard records, sell millions of albums and influence an entire generation of singers.
"We respect one another and we respect each other’s ability," Morris said of the group's success in a 2015 interview with the Australian publication Spotlight Report. "And we make sure that, at the end of the day, there’s always a goal. And that goal is to be the best at what Boyz II Men represents. And that’s the key – we always want people to know who we are and what music we represent – how we represent our music to a T. It’s very important that, at the end of the day, when people hear Boys II Men, they live, they grow with it, they become a part of it, they let it work with them and make them feel comfortable about what they’re listening to. So, the legacy is all based on our integrity when it comes to the music."
1974- Afroman is Born
Grammy-nominated rapper and multi-instrumentalist, Joseph Edgar Foreman, better known as Afroman was born on this day two years after Wanya. He's best known for his 2001 weed anthem, "Because I Got High," and the classic music video that featured Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as the cult classic characters, Jay and Silent Bob. However, Afroman achieved notoriety again in 2015, albeit for an entirely different reason. While performing in Biloxi, Mississippi, he punched a female fan in the head for venturing on stage. After the woman filed a lawsuit against the rapper, he settled with the woman in 2018.
1993- Gumbo Releases Dropping Soulful H2O on the Fiber
The first album produced by Arrested Development's Speech following the success of Arrested Development's 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of, Gumbo's debut is considered an underground must-have by many experimental artists. Anchored by tracks like "Basement Music," "I Feel Free," "I Know," and "The Jungle," the 1993 album is a hodgepodge of hip-hop and soul.
1997- Common Drops "Retrospect for Life" Featuring Lauryn Hill
One of the best songs in Common's long, impressive discography is his 1997 collaboration with Lauryn Hill, "Retrospect for Life." It's the second single from his third album, One Day It'll All Make Sense, and featured production by longtime collaborator, No I.D. and James Poyser. The track represented a career shift of sorts for Common, as he was still finding his musical footing with this record, and would hone his sound just a few years later with 2000's Like Water For Chocolate. "Retrospect for Life" is a poignant song—uplifted by Lauryn Hill's aching interpolation of Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer." It highlighted one of Common's greatest abilities as an emcee, making himself vulnerable. Here, the Chicago rapper makes himself even more relatable as he deals with his lingering feelings after his girlfriend has an abortion.
"The funniest thing is, the song was a true story. It was weird because when the girl (who it was about) heard it, she spazzed out about it," No I.D. said of the song, in an interview with Complex. "My man James Poyser played the keys on it. There was actually another version without James, but we had him come in on the train to fix it up. Lauryn actually met James for the first time during this session, and he later went on to work with her on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill—so that record has a lot of musical significance. There’s a lot of stories about it."
1997- Bone Thugs-N-Harmony release their third album, The Art of War
Bone was undoubtedly one of the biggest groups of any genre in the 90s—as exemplified with their release of The Art of War (produced entirely by DJ U-Neek), which was a double album that still managed to go quadruple platinum. Led by the singles "Look Into My Eyes" and "If I Could Teach the World," the Cleveland group spent a lot of time on the project dissing rappers who they thought were biting their style, such as Crucial Conflict. There was also drama with new Ruthless Records label head, Tomika Wright, who took over the label following the 1995 death of Eazy-E.
"We had to man up and stand up to a lot of pressures," Layzie Bone said of Eazy's passing in a 2016 interview with Riot Sound. "Eazy-E passing away and then [having to work with other people]. We went from having total freedom of being artists to being controlled and just being totally unhappy as creative artists. Man, [that kind of thing] is unheard of; and then for us to still be standing [is incredible]."
2008- T.I. releases "Whatever You Like"
Tip scored his second No. 1 song with 2008's "Whatever You Like" from his double platinum album, Paper Trail. The sing-songy love ditty remains one of his biggest hits to date, topping the charts for seven non-consecutive weeks. The video, directed by Dave Meyers, starred actress Reagan Gomez as Tip's super happy-to-be-there love interest. The success of the song marked a critical time in the Atlanta rapper's career, as he was dealing with the fallout from his 2007 federal weapons conviction.
"In the beginning of this year, the position I was in, it wasn't easy to assume I would have reached this level this fast. I gotta say, man, I'm blessed. I'm thankful," he told MTV in 2008. "I'm looking forward to the future. I'm looking beyond this present situation I'm in."
2008- T-Pain's "Can't Believe It" Featuring Lil Wayne Drops
This was the second song released as a single between Lil Wayne and T-Pain and helped spawn their collaboration, T-Wayne, which was recorded in 2009. The album didn't see the light of day until 2017 after drama between their labels held the project up. T-Pain broke down the recording process with Wayne in a 2017 interview with The Ringer.
"There was the most minimal interaction with this," he explained. "We did it on tour. We both had tour buses and we both had studios on our tour buses. I would literally do my verse, take it to his bus, like 'I'm done, get it back to me when you can.' Then, after the show, he'd bring it back."
2008- John Legend connects with Andre 3000 for "Green Light"
The world hadn't had a proper album from Andre 3000 since 2003's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, so when he showed up on John Legend's "Green Light," it was a joyous occasion. The connection between the two was propelled by longtime Dungeon Family member Kawan "KP" Prather (of the group P.A.), who served as A&R for Legend's project. The chemistry between Three Stacks and Legends was loose and organic, as evidenced by the playful video, which also featured Estelle. The party was an event that everyone wished they attended, as 3000 said, "Even Stevie Wonder got down sometimes." The song was Legend's bestselling single until 2014's "All of Me" took the crown.
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