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Be

be_rev

Artist: CommonTitle: BeRating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Sean A. Malcolm

Classic…that’s not a word us critics use lightly. We don’t throw that word around like a 99 mph Randy Johnson fastball. Unfortunately, this game hasn’t seen an overall flawless album since…EXACTLY. Peep the quick “classical” lineup: Illmatic…classic. Midnight Marauders…classic. Reasonable Doubt…classic. These albums embodied everything we as music journalists look for in an album; a rhyme-readied MC with an open mic, loose lips and a conscious mind of the jewels he’s about to drop over production that’ll make your head nod, and your heart well with the type of pride and emotion that at times is unexplainable. Be (G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen), Common’s latest effort, backed heavily by Mr. Roc-A-Fella himself, Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music label…is a classic. Let’s be real, Hip-hop has been lost in the matrix for a minute now since the greatest alive retired, and just like Morpheus, another bald headed orator—who has been shunned by others because of his change of lifestyle, which was evident on his gravely misunderstood Electric Circus album (E. Badu, what up!)—has presented the music to give listeners the blue pill that will take us on a journey unlike any other heard in a while.

We know that the Hip-hop nation is more than familiar with the sinister single “The Corner”—which gave hardcore Common Sense fans a perpetual hard-on that Lonnie Lynn Jr. has returned to his Resurrection days. But before you take it back to ’92 like Starter caps, know that Be is more a culmination of the various stages that Common has bestowed on us since he first touched the mic, rather than a resurrection. With that in mind, Common does stay true to his proclamation of love, peace and the heavens above on tracks like the aptly named “Love Is” and “Faithful,” where he bravely declares, “I was rolling around and my mind it occurred/what if God was a her?/Would I treat her the same/would I still be running game/on her/and which type ways I would want her.” Moreover, Common returns to his days of witty wordplay fueled by vigor that’s just as thick as the Windy City air in December on Kanye’s jazz-influenced gem “Real People,” and on his hometown ode “Chi City”—where Com cocks hammers at his gaudy contemporaries “In the middle of chaos and gunfire/so many raps about rims/surprised niggas ain’t become tires”) and vehemently proclaims, “they ask me where hip-hop is going/ it’s Chi-Ca-Going/ poetry’s in motion like a picture now showing.”

Along with his vivid lyrical wizardry, Com plays the role of storyteller, painting pictures of extravagant court trials (“Testify”), sexual fantasies (the John Mayer-inspired second single “Go”) and teenage introspective on “It’s Your World.” On the latter he actually interviewed a wayward Chicago prostitute about her path to decadence, manifesting itself into the song’s second verse, “she said it was her toes but I can tell her soul hurt/she was cold turk/growing up she got to know hurt/very well in a world where self-hate is overt”

Yet, Common’s versatile rhymes are only half the battle as Kanye, who produces nine of the CD’s eleven tracks, creates, arguably, his best work ever—which only heightens anticipation for his next album. But, not to be outdone by Yay’s excessiveness, Jay Dilla creates smooth melodic joints that easily hold their own on this complete album. Let’s just hope—for Hip-hop’s sake—the recent string of bootlegged copies of Be, doesn’t hurt Com’s chances of seeing platinum success. Still, if us critics look back, some classics don’t necessarily become Billboard favorites, they just stand the test of time. And Be will make the grade.

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