Common, Be

Common's two strengths have always been his command of language and his smooth voice. On his past two records — 2000’s jazzy Like Water For Chocolate and the critically acclaimed, spaced out 2002 rocker Electric Circus — Common's vocals always seemed hidden underneath busy, ambitious production. But with the aptly titled Be, producer Kanye West brings up Common's soulful raps over the simple yet undeniably memorable beats. While Be doesn’t break any new musical territory, Common's versatility as a lyricist allows him to voice his opinions on social issues (“The Corner,” “It's Your World”) to love's bad and good sides (“Go!,” “Love Is.”) and remark on the state of hip-hop (“Chi-City”). While every track is single-worthy, instant highlights include the title track, the church-soul inspired "Faithful," and the 70's strut of "Real People". By keeping Be to a lean 11 songs, their isn't one filler track; making it one of the tightest hip-hop albums in recent memory and definitely Common's best. (Geffen) Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

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