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Friday, March 11, 2005

It's like Butta Baby

  • STREET DATE ALERT - Common "Be (Basement Elevation)" - May 24. Executive produced byKanyeezy. Is there any truth to No ID rocking on this album?

It seems like each time Common comes out he is running with a different team. The 1st two albums it was all Chicago. No ID, Doug Inf, YNOT. I think the only outside production was The Beatnuts on the "Soul By The Pound" remix. On 'Resurrection' (still my favorite) when I think Common was the most comfortable. It was almost like he felt he had nothing to lose. He had a decent buzz when the 1st joint dropped, but it wasn't the smash some had hoped. The Beatnuts remix gave him a shot in the arm.

I would love to talk with someone at Relativity to see what was Common's status before Ressurection was greenlighted. I wouldn't be surprised if they were considering releasing him. It seemed like NO ID and the crew just went back to Chicago and worked like they had nothing to lose. And what they created was genius. It solidified Common as the 'common man's rapper.'

There were so many things on 'Ressurection' that I identified with. A grown man living with your moms, drinking too much, professional uncertainty. I know there are a bunch of 30+ year olds who feel me on this one. 'used to love her' was the record of course. It was the record that turned me around. I thought Common was a Das Efx clone on 'Can I Borrow'. When I heard 'used to love her' I admitted this cat was 'next level.' But the real song was 'Communism' which I heard on the iilscout Spring Fling mixtape (oooh - all my UVa cats - holla!). That and 'Orange Pineapple Juice' were the joints. Then there was the Extra P 'Ressurection' remix - whew!

Then De La got a hold of him, put him on 'The Bizness' and Common was on his way. Now he was rocking with Tip, Badu and the now ubiquitous Questlove. I always wondered what happened to NO ID and the Chicago crew. On "One Day It Will All Make Sense" Common solidified himself along with Kweli and Mos as 2nd generation Native Tongues. But with Quest involved it had a Roots/Philly sound which was definitely Native Tounge but more its own sound.

Questlove then took over for the next two records. "Like Water For Chocolate" and the appropriately titled 'Electric Circus.' Now it was about the Soulquarians with Jay Dee (Dilla) and James Poyser. 'Chocolate' saw Dilla really flex his muscle. He was the designated heir to ATCQ but had a more materialistic edge that seem not to jive. With Common, Dilla found that a kindred Mid-West spirit. 'Time Travellin' and 'Thelonius' set it the f!*&$k off. Although I maitain that 'Chocolate' was Common and Quest's version of Slum Village's 'Fantastic Vol.2" it was still a sonic joy.

'Circus' was an experiment that was not nearly as crazy as most thought. I think this was Common in his most confused state. 'The Light' gave Common a real hit and I think the pressure to follow up got him off track. 'I am Music' and 'Soul Power' was excellent Com, but "Star 69" and 'Jimi' seemed to fit Common like your little brother's Lottos. He still was in tune with me with songs like 'Between Me, You and Liberation.' I had recently lost my mom (the good Beat Rice) and am not ashamed to say I cried walking up Cadman Plaza after Common's verse about his aunt. So I will always defend that album for that stanza alone.

I say all that to say I think 'BE' is Common coming full circle. He is back in Chicago and feeling more comfortable. Having Kanye executive produce the album is interesting if not ironic. Kanye is Common's product literally and figuratively. When you really listen to Kanye, he is a more materialistic, misogynistic, arrogant, less progressive, more conservative, less lyrical Common with the Roc behind him. That is to take nothing away from Kanye. They both have that dichotomy. Black middle class kids who know the hood. Love their momma, but not afraid to pimp and run some hoes. I think that ying and yang is what makes them so successful. There is a good angel and bad angel on all our shoulders. Those two communicate that struggle better than anyone. They even taught that to the God MC, him Jay-Hovah how to communicate that essence better.

(Kanye definitely gave Jay some fashion lessons. Jay seems like the kid from the streets who befriended the bougie Kanye. doesn't that Reebok commercial seem like Kanye wrote it?)

Anyway, I think BE is going to be a monster. Almost as important as Speakerboxx/Love Below in terms of opening up new doors in Hip-Hop. Although I hoped 'Corners' would be better I look forward to BE as much as any record in the past 5 years.

To listen to the album's mentioned click here

Kim, please make the swift chancellor gets a copy.

Here 'sto hoping UVa whoops up on Duke tonight.

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