Breaking Down Common’s “The Light”


Common’s kind-hearted, “The Light” definitely displays his admiration towards a woman via love letter: this woman is none other than Erykah Badu. According to Badu, she claims rapper Common is one of the most compassionate human beings she has ever met, and although their relationship came to an end after two years, Common claims the experience was life-changing. The song was released at the peak of their relationship in 2000, off of his first major-label album “Like Water for Chocolate.” He sampled the song from Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes,” and actually didn’t know Caldwell was white until he was sampled for the track. The tune gives the listener minor insight on his strong intimate feelings towards Badu which are absolutely divine.

Common confirmed that the “Badu Box” is real, which is the state of mesmerizing love she possessed him in. “Man, it could take you to another universe [laughs]. Nah but seriously. That’s when you meet somebody that’s real special and you’re like, ‘Man, this woman’s got…. she something else, man. It ain’t just sex, it ain’t just the looks. It’s just something that’s kind of like spirit-wise where you’re like, ‘This woman got something else.” . It has been known for Badu to inspire and have her partners explore their style and sounds of music, for instance, Andre 3000 in 1995, who underwent a complete transformation.

As a girl writing this, even I would be taken aback by her pure soul and urban beauty. With older siblings and cousins, I constantly grew up listening to her. Even when I was clueless to other songs at the time, I knew I liked her distinct, soothing sound. I found her comforting.

There are several lines in this song that actually make somewhat sense to me. I know that sounds confusing. My boyfriend always tells me that I can never see my own true beauty, at least not in his eyes. That always sounds so dramatic and cliché to me. But this song, in particular, gives me a man’s perspective on what it is like to be in love.

And of course I don’t know Common personally, but this song shows he has a lot of respect for women. I admire how he addresses Erykah as “Queen.” I find it sweet when he refers to her past hurts and how she will finally be appreciated. “I know your heart is weathered by what studs did to you.”

My favorite line is: “Some niggaz recognize the light but they can’t handle the glare.”

He mentions key elements of a relationship like communication, “few understanding the union of woman and man,” “this foundation for a family,” “my heart’s dictionary defines you—its love and happiness.” Most importantly I see mentioning of the word “light” to be symbolic for several things. In my perspective, I see the light as his love, Erykah, heavens that he can now visually see because he has her, and God for putting her in his life. It was with her help that he received his first Grammy for “Love of my Life.”

To this day I love driving to “the Light” on a sunny day. It comforts me to know that Common and Erykah are still close friends and still share their shine.


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