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Friday, 27 February 2009
both sides archives: album review - common
Now Playing: dope sandwich - coming of age
Topic: 2005 reviews
y'know, i really ought to do better about moving the reviews and rants on this site to the blog. it would be a lot less cluttered that way. while new podcast postings tend to be the big draw, it's nice to reminisce about older albums and see if the same feelings still linger of if they've changed with time. so with that in mind, let's start dusting off some of those BSOTS reviews. if time permits, i'll dig into a few from the ON THE VERGE years as well.

this review was the last that was written for the BSOTS site prior to the podcast starting up. Radio BSOTS began in august of 2005; this review was posted one month earlier and is written by my man, hired gun. knowing him, i'm sure he wants this common back and not the guy that dropped universal mind control last year. thing is, however, THEY'RE THE SAME CAT, but i'm sure i'll get into that with h. rap gunn next time i see him. and another thing: there are a number of people who couldn't get down with electric circus when it first dropped that love the album now that it's several years down the line. i'll have to find out mikal's thoughts on that one, too...

{jason randall smith}

COMMON
Be
Record label: Geffen
Format: 2xLP/ CD
Release date: 24 May 2005

Common has become an enigmatic figure over the decade plus that he has graced the mic. He's been respected universally as one of the most gifted lyricists of his generation. Much like Nas, Common's career has seen many odd twists and nearly as many manifestations, though of a more subtle variety. When we had last seen him he was exploring a much more experimental side, dressing in knitted pants and reportedly been pussy whipped by the alien, Erykah Badu. This resulted in a huge question mark placed next to this new album.

Quietly, Common (again, much like Nas) probably got a free pass for Electric Circus (we all have to search our inner self sometimes, and it's not always pretty...). But people still begged the question: "Where is Common going to take us now?" Common gives his answer with the single "The Corners." We basically get the Chicagoan rhymer coming full circle and connecting the points from past to future.

Be is not Common's greatest work. It arguably falls right between One Day It'll All Make Sense and Like Water For Chocolate (depending on who you ask), but the truth is this is one of his most well rounded albums, highlighting all of the things we love about Common. Clocking in at about 40 minutes, we get to see a focused, matured, and very hungry Common reminiscent of his Resurrection period. He shows that he still has the intangible introspection and soul searching that we loved from One Day... on cuts such as "Love is," "Real People," and "Faithful." The quick wit, punchline-laced explosions of "Chi-City" and the album intro causes us to remember Common Sense as he was on past efforts. With Kanye West and J-Dilla on the boards (only for two tracks) and backed up by John Legend and the Last Poets, there is a glimpse of that (*gag*) Neo Soul sound from Like Water..., but with just a little bit of that radio polished twist that only Mr. West can bring. Surprisingly, Kanye doesn't really pull a full Pharrell, and only weighs in vocally for four songs (which is still way more than enough).

If there is a knock, it actually might be its strength: Common runs the gamut of topics and sounds on this album, but doesn't go all the way. The beats are lacking a really heavy hit. Songs like "Go!" and "Testify" don't stand out or contribute much to the feel of the album. Still, Be as a whole work is one of those albums on full rotation (no skips) and you'll find yourself falling in love with Common all over again.

{mikal lee (hired gun)}


Posted by macedonia at 12:20 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 27 February 2009 12:27 PM EST
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