Common - The Electric Circus
A lot of heads have been quick to hate on this album, and those who like it have dismissed the detractors by saying they are just closed-minded. I would say the problem is more likely that those haters have heard "Resurrection." In 1994, Common (then Sense) released an album that was pure hip hop, an album that defined the art form. "Resurrection" was so dope that cats are gonna front on "Electric Circus" simply because it is not "Resurrection." The sound of this album should not come as a surprise to anyone, which each release Common has always expanded his musical horizons and experimented with new sounds.
Always known as one of hip hop's most conscious emcees, Common has matured more than ever on this release. "Between Me, You & Liberation" displays this growth in a breathtaking fashion as Common whispers the touching stories of 3 people close to him over a soulful ?uestlove offering. With the exception of 2 Neptunes beats, the album was entirely produced by The Soulquarians, which explains the consistent vibe. Jay Dee really gets things started with the aptly-titled "Soul Power" that is just so thick with Dilla's goodness. The song is also a good piece for those who say Common is soft now, check the repertoire, "you made a hit and came up on a few dollars/I'd rather listen to silence then you holler/borrowed your persona/from the late that made 'Dear Mama.'" Common's lyrical prowess is on full display as always, albeit more abstract than in the past. His adjustment is only fitting considering the eclectic soundscapes that he rides. The way "Aquarius" and "Electric Wire Hustler Flower" hit back to back is unspeakably dope. As is the verse to chorus contrast found in "New Wave."
It is evident after several listens that each song was crafted with care and sequenced with its surroundings in mind. While "Star 69" is moody and dark, it is followed beautifully by a classic Neptunes rock-styled "I Got A Right Ta." Anyone out there who likes Ja Rule's rancid duets with r&b singers should listen to what a real collaboration sounds like; Common and Jill Scott do something special on "I Am Music." Common then goes for the Outkast outro with the last two songs really slowing it down and defying conventional song structure.
"I didn't switch over, I just made my own lanes." This line best summarizes the musical stylings of a brother formally named Common Sense. While his early fans hate it, Common will never make another "Resurrection." That is by choice, he made that album once and has moved beyond it and now tries to expand on it. For better or worse. Pay the "Electric Circus" a visit. It is well worth the price of admission.