Posted by: Dave on August 7, 2007 at 8:15 am

CommonFindingForeverNote: As on Common’s previous release Be (my #19 album of 2005), Kanye West produced the majority of the tracks (and provides vocals on two of them). Other production comes from the late J Dilla, Will.i.Am and DJ Premier, while Lily Allen, D’Angelo and Bilal are featured vocalists.
Sound: There’s less of the delightfully breezy, poppy, r&b-tinged hip hop of Be. Instead Finding Forever has a darker, more rugged vibe for Common to drop his compelling narratives, vivid visuals and amusing wordplay.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “The Game”; “Drivin’ Me Wild” featuring Lily Allen; “The People”
Medium Rotation tracks: “I Want You” featuring Bilal
Recommended: After fifteen years in the game, Common remains one of the premier MCs in hip hop. He can still play the sensitive romantic, then turn around and paint gritty street portraits and attack them both with a smooth and sophisticated flow. Finding Forever is a notch or two below his finest albums, but it has several worthy highlights.
Grade: B+

Listen to Tracks/Buy Music:
On iTunes

7 Responses to “Common Finding Forever (Geffen)”

  1. Ben Says:

    I found this pretty underwhelming. I couldn’t give it more than a C.

  2. Dave Says:

    That’s rough. Did you like Be? He’s still one of the best.

  3. Ben Says:

    Be is okay. Solid, but not great. The best thing from that period was probably his performance of “Food” on Chappelle’s Show with Kanye.

    My speculation is that after the different direction of Electric Circus failed to fly with rap fans Common adopted a more conservative pose to his music. I find a lot of it to sound as if it was painted by numbers.

    As consistently encouraging as hip hop has been to the introduction new sounds, there’s a lot about it that’s conservative. Change isn’t always welcome, especially if it comes with a white or homosexual flavor.

    One thing I find interesting about the new album is that the Chicago shoutout track with Kanye features Common claiming “If rap was Harlem, I’d be James Baldwin.” If you get a chance to interview him, I’d love to find out why he chose Baldwin, who, of course, was a critic of enforced heterosexuality.

  4. Dave Says:

    Agreed that Electric Circus scared a lot of rap fans and he’s gone more conservative. But he’s done a couple great things with that more conventional approach. “The Corner” was tremendous on Be. “The Game” is excellent on this new one. And I like most of the tracks on those 2 albums anyway, despite them being safer than Electric Circus. “I Am Music” was a hell of a track on there.

    I may be working with Common this week actually. It won’t necessarily be an interview, but I’ll ask him if I get a chance.

  5. Ben Says:

    I’d appreciate that. You rarely hear Baldwin come up in contemporary black politics. I’d want know to know what appeals to him about the guy. Has Common ever made public statements about gay rights?

    I’d also be interested to hear how he got into him and what Baldwin books he’s read. The CPL selected Go Tell It On The Mountain for it’s One Book, One Chicago program a few years ago.

    Also, I’d want to ask him whether he thinks he was the first rapper to namecheck Obama in a verse. His reference in the remix to Jadakiss’ “Why” (‘Why don’t we impeach Bush and elect Obama?’) is the earliest namedrop I’ve come across.

  6. Dave Says:

    I’ll have to read up a little on Baldwin. And if we do ending up working together, I’ll ask him. I’ll keep you posted.

  7. Ben Says:

    As a newly minted Chicagoan, another guy Common references in “Southside” who you might be interested to learn about is Jeff Fort.

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