Common

Finding Forever

posted August 01, 2007 08:12:37 AM CDT | 159 comments

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Common solidified his immortality in 1994 when he made one of Hip Hop's most enduring and defining songs in "I Used To Love H.E.R." The metaphoric love song didn't satisfy Lonnie Lynn to rest on his laurels; it served as the springboard to launch the career of one of Hip Hop's most talented and accomplished artists. After 2002's experimental and polarizing LP Electric Circus many had wondered if Common has lost more than just the sense in his moniker. Com answered all questions in 2005 when he hit the studio with newly minted superstar Kanye West to craft his best album since his seminal Resurrection. Naturally, Finding Forever picks up where Be left off.

Once again 'Ye is producing the bulk of the album, with Dilla, will.i.am and Devo Springsteen chipping in. Mr. West makes his presence felt from the jump with "Start The Show" as Common talks a gang of shit. He quickly switches it up as he usually does and goes into man of the people mode for, you guessed it, "The People." The song is an easy winner minus his inane claim that Kanye is new Primo. The real DJ Premier does come though as well, and it is for "The Game," easily the illest song on the album. Primo lends some of the finer cuts of his career over Kanye's dead spot-on impression of him. And yeah, Common rips it too. Com keeps the edge on when Kanye joins him on the mic for their nice little hometown tribute "Southside." Initially my least favorite song on the album, the will.i.am-featured-and-produced "I Want You" is now one of my favorites. The vibe of it is just great and will's return of the boom bap at the end of the track is enough to get a thumbs up from me.

As he likes to do, Common gets his three-person-story on on the dope Lily Allen-featured "Drivin' Me Wild." The moral of the stories is something a lot of fools need to hear these days. He is just as impressive talking race on the smoothed out "Black Maybe," backed by some great, understated production from Kanye. Keeping on the mellower tip of the latter half of the album, "So Far To Go" featuring D'angelo is a prototypical Dilla joint that has Com writing to the ladies. Definitely dope for what it is - unfortunately it is basically just recycled from Dilla's The Shining from last summer. Women stay on Common's mind on "Break My Heart," which is kinda corny and is really only saved by Kanye's sampling on the hook.

If it wasn't for "The Game," "Misunderstood" would be the album's gem. Devo Springsteen steals some of Kanye's shine as he crafts a nice dark beat around an incredible Nina Simone vocal from "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." Common is in storytelling mode once again, and once again does it like few else can. The title track closes the album out and sonically it does an excellent job of tying the first and second parts of the album together.

Finding Forever is in some ways a follow up to Be, but in some ways it's also what Be should have been. In hindsight especially, Be lacked a real edge in the latter half of the album and drifted into boredom. Finding Forever doesn't suffer from that affliction, and the slower joints are among the best of the LP. Some folks will complain that at 11 songs and an intro the album is too short but I'm with it - fuck 20 songs and 4 skits. After drifting into a territory that no one seemed to welcome with Electric Circus, Kanye has helped bring Com full circle. Album number seven puts Common's catalogue on a level that few can fuck with. If forever is immortality in this game, Common has found it.

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