Common, Kanye Talk 'Be'

Kanye West is notorious

for unabashedly hyping himself as well as his own artists, so naturally the

Chicago rapper/producer has projected Common's upcoming album Be as

a classic. Meanwhile, Common has responded to critics who claim West restored

his career.

"I'm telling

you right now it's five mics [The Source album review rating],

five stars ['s rating system] across the board," West

told "Common's album will go down in history."

XXL magazine has

validated West’s opinion and given the opus its highest rating of “XXL.”

"On Be, Common plays poet and documentarian, showing us the triumphs

and tragedies that occur in Ghetto, USA. Common’s

wordsmith wizardry soars beyond stylistics: "It excels at photographing

real life,” the magazine praised.

West said he produced

the bulk of Be, and Detroit producer Jay-Dee worked on the remainder

of the album.

"He's not

going back, he's going forward," said West in reference to Common's relapse

to his more

aggressive side on Be. "There are songs on there that only me

and Common

could have done together."

While West boasted

of the album's superiority, Common envisioned Be as a testament to

his evolution as an MC and a slight return to his usual self.

"I don't think

I could ever go back to who I was in '94 and '96," Common told

"But as you evolve you sometimes go back home, and people say that I'm

going back home cause I'm doing raw hip-hop and that's where I began."

Though some critics

have credited West for resuscitating Common's career, which has always been

somewhat under the radar and non-mainstream, West defended his frequent song

cameos as something that is a staple of Hip-Hop.

"I heard

a comment [from a critic] like 'Is Kanye on every hook?' and I told Common and

he said, 'I don't give a f**k – I like it,'" said West. "And

that's what Hip-Hop is about. We don't

give a f**k and we put out the songs we like."

Concurring with

West, Common said he acknowledged the mega-producer's artistic contribution

and ability to draw a larger audience than Common has typically attracted.

Still, Common gave

himself much of the acclaim, at the same time expressing appreciation for West's

role in his

musical resurgence.

"Only I truly

can bring back me, however he is helping me to create music that the masses

and people can enjoy and love," said Common. "I have to give credit

where it is due. Kanye has been a big plus to my album and this new part of

my career and that is why we are riding together."

Common also proclaimed

that the process of recording with West has been reciprocal. "He has been

there passionately creating, and with him I have helped him grow as a producer

and it is give and take," said Common. "He has helped me create music

that everybody can deal

with and I wanted and needed that."

As Common prepares

to release his sixth album Be, he said he's pleased that he can be himself,

and he expects that people will relate to this authenticity.

"I feel like

I don't have anything to cover me up so people are feeling that," said

Common. "As a person you go through your evolution. But as an artist you

go through that in front of everybody. I'm trying on my bad clothes in front

of everybody."