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Common: Finding Forever

Common has always been anything but a run of the mill emcee. The Chi-Town lyrical kingpin has long possessed a special brand of flow that has granted him champion MC status in the eyes of anyone from kids who chill on a quad or hug the block, to grown ups leading boardroom conferences or amassing in shared hipster irony. But with the straight jocking of his last album, Be, the gargantuan question mark on the former Com Sense’s back is asking if with Finding Forever (Geffen) can he deliver another gem worthy of his catalog? Damn right he does. After a breezy intro that features dreamy keys and is bound to be removed by anyone with rudimentary iPod savvy, Common gets down to business on the album’s true intro, the searing “Start The Show.” He immediately kicks, “Ladies and gentlemen the C.O. double M.O.N./Synonym for fresh truth is the emblem.” So simply put but delivered so smoothly the printed word doesn’t give the flow justice. Meanwhile, the verse’s closer cements how he’s coming [pause]. “Many have come but few have been chose to be a true MC, you sing along with it inside you knowing it’s wack/Young who? I need an opening act.”Take note you arrested underdeveloped grown men rappers that act like schoolchildren. See, verbally Com is dipping into a cavernous well of experience—his debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, dropped in the nine deuce—and he is up to his old tricks. Por ejemplo, you get strong metaphor raps on “The People” [they’re similes if you want to get technical], lusting after chicks on the Lily Allen assisted “Drivin’ Me Wild” and delivering pro-Black righteousness on the soothing “Black Maybe.” With Common, slickly flipped words and verbs are going to be a given. Production wise, no joke, Finding Forever is flawless. Kanye West is on his frikkin’ A- game (the minus for, again, that pretentious intro). Whether it’s dicing a swinging horn section for “The Game,” featuring DJ Premier on the cuts no less, or the playful keys on “Break My Heart” or the pulsing brass of “Southside,” it’s impossible to paint West’s musical footprint into a corner. ‘Ye doesn’t totally hog the beatlight either with will.i.am again trying his damndest to make you overlook the BEP entry on his resume with the percussive but silky “I Want You” and Devo Springsteen delivering a contemplative slowburner on the Nina Simone heralding and swiping “Misunderstood.” Common’s old roommate J Dilla also makes a contribution with “So Far To Go,” which is a more subdued mix of “So Far So Good” from the late production prodigy’s The Shining album. “Break My Heart” is the only entry with a blatantly corny sheen, mostly due to Com’s flow experimentation on the first verse, though the vocals West slipstreams with the groove make it buttery. If nitpicking is necessary, Common sure is caught up with falling in and out of love. But hey the dude’s been lovin’em up since “I Used to Love H.E.R.” to “The Light,” and even on down to “Go.” A rapper with heart, go figure. And of course, Pops makes a poetic punch in on the regal closer “Forever Begins.”When it comes down to it, the impending questioning of Finding Forever’s worth based on a factor of its sales potential is the real travesty.  Removing store register considerations alone would give the number crunchers time to realize that this here, is some official Hip-Hop music. In reality the grace of Be has given Common leave to make an album free of creative distraction. The rhyme, the rhythm, Common has found his muse—and we all will find it beneficial.

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