observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Monday, April 11, 2005

BE all you can

So I got a copy of Common’s ‘BE’ on Friday from a source that will remain nameless. But rest assured Geffen Records the album will remain on my hard drive only. I know how you big boys hate this digital world we live in. Although I wonder if these leaks weren’t around would the buzz be so huge on Comm.

I am not gonna bore you with a standard review, you are going to get bombarded with them thanks to Kim :_0
Instead I am gonna give you my initial reaction from a listen and a half.

The Electric Circus has left the building.
The progressive, experimental Common is no more. So you all got your wish. Common may say he is not trying to go back to ’94, but he sure is trying to get away from the last album. What is really unfortunate is that there was some heat on EC that got buried by the Andre 3000 / Cody Chestnutt (I thought he was the next big thing – oh well) version of Lonnie Lynn. What is unfortunate is that this work is so predictable whereas ever since his masterpiece, ‘Resurrection’ Common has always moved the art up a step a two. This is a fastball right down the middle or rather a T-Ball. There is no way you are gonna be able to miss this one. It is packaged perfectly for the Kanye, Native Tongue fan. Unfortunately almost too much so. I wouldn’t have minded Common bugging out a little bit.

Common no longer resides in the 11238 zip code
For the past couple of albums Common has been splitting his time between Brooklyn and the Chi. His music had taken on a much more bohemian NY vibe (thanks to the contribution of a Philly drummer and Detroit beatsmith – go figure). But ‘BE’ has many more verbal references to the Chi than I can remember. I am not mad, just an observation, but it probably has a lot to do with…

The student has become the teacher
I was always under the impression that the story went that Common begat No ID who begat Kanye. So there would be no Kanyeezy without Common. On ‘BE’ the power dynamic has clearly switched. Kanye is the executive producer and Common follows his lead. If my protégé was 2X platinum I would probably listen very closely to his direction. What we get is Common filtered through another artist very differently that when Questlove was at the wheels. I always thought Kanye was a more materialistic, arrogant Common who was not in the same league lyrically. So ‘BE’ should have reached heights ‘College Dropout’ couldn’t see. As a whole it doesn’t and I don’t know why exactly. They are however brilliant collabs like “Go” and “Food” but over all it misses my expectations, I also wish my favorite J-Dilla was a little more involved.

Common will be one of the best no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong the album is hot because Common is one of the best MC’s in the post Rakim era along with Black Thought, Ghost, Doom and Kweli. I think he needs to fully realize that. I know he hates when people compare his albums but the last time I believe he truly believed that was on ‘Resurrection.’ On ‘Be’ like Kweli on ‘Struggle’ Common tries too hard to live up to the accolades of Jay Z. He clearly wants to cash in creatively on all his hard work, but I think he just needs to relax and do his thing,

We are thirsty and with all the bellyaching it will satisfy
The scene is so bereft of quality music that ‘BE’ will benefit from some great timing. It is the only record of the short year that will satisfy the post Native Tongue, purist crowd. It is extremely musical and rich unlike the weak synthesizer crap out now. So go out and buy it. It will be your best purchase of the yet.

As always this is only my opinion and welcome to debate. I am just a Hip-Hop fan like J-Smoov

In other news

The George Foreman Grill is the move. Believe the hype. Made some trout tonight that would blow your socks off.


Anonymous Aqua said...

I made like a dope fiend and copped BE through un-named sources (but hey, i'll buy it...or at least bug Geffen for a copy) as well. At a relatively compact 11 songs I find it's a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Does it live up to the hype? Well, what ever does? Being the nitpicky bastard that I am, I could have done with some Hi-Tek beats; check "1999" (shout to Blue Black), "Tekzilla" and "The Sun God".
Common may not tread any new ground but damn it sounds good to hear an excellent rapper flow over fresh grooves. The album is definitely sparring with Beanie Sigel's for my attention.

April 11, 2005 9:53 AM

Anonymous panama jackson said...

Much like everybody else, I managed to snag a copy of this joint from an unnamed source and I'm actually pleasantly surprised. Maybe it says something about what else is out there available but I can't help but to think that this is going to be one of the best albums to come out in 2005.

My only issue with it is that Kanye's production is so much different and so much better than a lot of the other stuff that I almost feel like Common gets lost in it all. The beats carry so much weight for me that even after listening to songs like "Be" over and over, I still have no idea what Common is talking about because the beat is that great.

Okay...enough longwindedness. I love this joint too and I'm glad he left the EC days behind because I just couldn't take it.

April 14, 2005 1:03 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

Panama, i feel you. That is how I feel. Kanye really got busy and Common gets lost at times

April 18, 2005 12:11 PM

Anonymous mfdoom4president said...

i was expecting to be BLOWN away by BE and instead was pleasantly surprised. glad the EC com is gone. i still think "The Food" is the best track although i've been bumping it for months, followed closely by "Go" and "Chi-City".

maybe i need to listen a couple more times but laid back tracks like "this is love" and "faithful" fall flat for me.

hopefully com adds 2-3 more j-dilla tracks on the official release.

P.S. Wes, thank you for 7Heads. You've put out some of my favorite music of the past few yrs (Unspoken Heard, J-Live, etc.)

April 18, 2005 2:55 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

thank you man.

I wonder what extra tracks will be on the official. I want some more Dilla Dog as well

April 18, 2005 3:19 PM


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