November 9th, 2007
The story of Common is one of hard work and perseverance. He dropped his first album, Can I Borrow A Dollar (1992), to little fanfare. His follow-up, 1994’s Resurrection, is considered to be one of the most lyrical albums of all time, but was virtually a commercial failure. On 1997’s One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common featured a more mellow sound, which earned him a slightly better commercial reception but alienated some of his core fans. Like Water for Chocolate (2000) marked the beginning of his ascent to mainstream success, partly due to the popular love song “The Light.” He received mixed reviews for Electric Circus (2002); while it contained a number of solid tracks, it was a bit too experimental for his core audience. Common came back to Earth on 2005’s Be, which was both a critical and commercial success. Finding Forever (2007) finds him at the apex of his career.
There are a number of good songs on Finding Forever. “Southside,” featuring Kanye West, is a banging ode to his side of Chicago. DJ Premier provides one of his signature boom bap beats and Common aggressively spits sharp battle raps on “The Game.” “The People” features an amazing Kanye West beat, smooth vocals from singer Dwele, and an average, but adequate verse from Common. On “So Far to Go,” Common’s performance takes a back seat to the late great J. Dilla’s beautiful beat and m.i.a. D’Angelo’s angelic vocals. “Misunderstood” features a great performance by Common, nice background vocals by Bilal, and a well-executed Nina Simone vocal sample. Common and Kanye West continue their chemistry on “Forever Begins,” one of the album’s best songs. “U, Black Maybe,” “Start the Show,” and “Drivin’ Me Wild” are other strong tracks.
There are no bad tracks on Finding Forever. Common appears to continue the successful formula that was employed on his last album, Be. This formula, however, is very obvious and at times makes the album redundant and boring. Common is one of rap’s greatest lyricist, but he kept himself in a box on this record. Hopefully, in the future, Com will feel comfortable enough take more risks.
Posted by Langston Collin Wilkins
Review Genre(s): Rap and Hip-Hop