Wednesday, May 11, 2005
SOUL BY THE OUNCE
Common - B.E.
Record Label: Geffen RecordsFeatured Artists: Kanye West, John Mayer, John Legend, The Last Poets, Bilal, Production by J Dilla
Article by: Premiere
While the mainstream rap media may finally be catching up to the genius that is Common Sense, anyone's who kept their ears even slightly close to the fringes of hip-hop knows all about the man behind Ressurection, Like Water For Chocolate, and Electric Circus. Circus, his most recent work, is moreso infamous than legendary though, due to it's complete abandonment of everything that made Common Sense a household name among all those who wore beanies and Pumas through the 90's; inspired by names like Hendrix and Prince instead of ones like Rakim and Big Daddy Kane left Common a backlash that was unheard of, as many of his longtime fans hoped he would return to his roots of raw hip-hop. Because Common, unlike fellow "concious rap" peer Mos Def, cares deeply about his fans' feelings for his records, he quickly annouced he would follow Circus up with a return to what made him semi-famous in his sixth sudio album, B.E.
To be sure B.E was exactly what his fans wanted, Common connected with fellow Chicagoan and current superstar Kanye West to helm his album; West even produced every track outside of two, both of which were handled by Common's old friend and compatriot J Dilla (who has produced the majority of his last two albums). "The Corner" and "The Food" were obvious choices to get back in touch with an underground that barely exists as he once knew it; too bad these were both misguided attempts that sound like bad rehashes of past Kanye productions (however, the version of "The Food" performed on the uber-popular "Chappelle's Show" is far superior to this version). Luckliy, Common is not off-track very long, as the title track sounds as powerful as anything Common has ever done, and its jazzy bass intro is the best start of any album this year. "Go" is perfect single material, containing healthy substance for the mind while still being as edible to the masses as any other Com song. He even tackles relationships in "Faithful" and "Testify" in a way he hadn't since the days in which he recorded songs with Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo. Unfortunately, this amazing beginning soon gives way into musical blandness, a charge Kanye West has been accused of before. Thankfully, Com is at the top of his game even with tired production, as songs like "They Say" and "It's Your World/ Pop's Reprise" sound genuinely fresh, even with beats which cannot be described the same way. Whether his producers followed up on his promise, Common certainly delivers a product made specifically for his fans. Luckily, it is also his most accesible, possibly making Common this year's Kanye West.
While Kanye may get trashed for not living up to the standards of NO I.D. or Dilla himself, he still provides enough strong tracks to Com that he can make what may be this year's best hip-hop album so far. Yes, it still has some of the faults of many "concious" albums (such as production that gets mired in the soul it's supposed to be stirring); however, Common also avoids the heavy handed preaching he's practiced before. If it catches on, maybe this album will have been made for more than just his fans.
The album has recently leaked thru the internet and I managed to get myself a press copy. I like this album a little more than the Electric Circus because it is more hip hop based and not as experimental. I think that Kanye did a pretty good job on the production, but you know that he is saving all the real gems for Rocafella artists and his new album Late Registration which is due out later this year. I met Common for a brief moment last year and got my circus album signed. He seemed like a very humble individual who really cares what his fans think. It was chance that I got to shake his hand because I was only down in NYC for one day, which happened to be the day he was doing an instore. I'm glad that I met him though, but I wish I had brought more business cards with me. Here's a tracklisting with a few comments on each track.
1. Be -nice for an intro to the album, well balanced.
2. The Corners -dope beat, same old Kanye drums, but hot sample w/ content.
3. Go -could've done without John Mayer..he's a homo, talented, but homo.
4. Faithful -a dope neo soul classic r-n-b-u-d-d-a-z...jus so smooth. features John Legend.
5. Testify -the verse is serious but the sample gets repetitive, Kanye stick to the norm. simple.
6. Love Is -a perfect one dedicated to the ladies shakin that ass on da low in a hotel room.
7. Chi City -the drum pattern is hot, but those drums have been recycled more than toliet paper.
8. The Food -the classic from the Dave Chappelle show.
9. Real People -this one goes back to the jazz era of sound, lyrics are deep.
10. They Say -this is one of the more dope tracks off the album, John Legend on the '73 rhodes.
11. It's Your World (Pop's Reprise) -this track that should've made the Electric Circus album.
I guess that these artists are really trying to make albums like the early 90's...only 11 tracks. Remember, less is more but only in the case of a google search. Albums these days are way more track than that, people want more for thier bandwidth. I'd be surprised if this album even breaks a million copies the first month. The only way that will happen is if it is on TRL and BET constantly with Kanye in every video.
----------THE FRESHEST OF FRESH-----------
This TML Breakers family photo, circa 1983. If you look closley you can see me in the middle sporting the bucket and glasses. Original photo ourtesy of Jamel Shabazz. There is a great article on the history of the ghetto blaster that will make you remember when you first broke those shelltoes out of the box. Read it, Enjoy it, Reminisce.
"I can't live without my radio!!!!!" ---LL Cool J
Milton Bradley has agreed to re-release one of it's hottest selling board games from the early 80's. YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!! LINE-O-COKE!!!! The games come complete with 8 mirrors, 16 razor blades, 1 box of tissues, 6 nose corks, 1 step by step guide on how to find a cokewhore manual, and last but not least a geek squad tee shirt with a some randomgirl snail trail on it. Cocaine, Baking Powder, Soap Shavings, and Police Scanner sold seperately.
Think twice the next time you try to play a player... or act funny toward his best friend for that matter. snoogins...another blone busted by the dumbfounders.