Rapper Common is known for being a “conscious rapper” who often decides on substance over current musical trends. This has always left the rapper on the outside looking in while his peers cashed in on “the bling bling era”; Common was focused on making good music. This all changed after he linked up with Kanye West and his record label G.O.O.D. Music an anachronism for Getting Out Our Dreams. With the support of Kanye and numerous Kanye produced tracks, “Be” was a critical and commercial success. On his new album “Finding Forever”, Common follows the same formula of a mostly Kanye West produced album. Other producers on the album include Will.I.Am, Devo Springsteen and the late J. Dilla. Guest appearances on the album include U.K. singing sensation Lily Allen, neo soul singers D’Angelo, Bilal & Dwele, and Kanye West himself. The question is after “Finding Forever” will Common finally go down in history as one of the greatest rappers of his era?
The first single off of “Finding Forever” is “The Game” featuring production by Kanye West who was assisted by legendary DJ Premier. The single never really caught on at radio or on television and quickly after it the second single was released.
The second single is the soulful “The People” featuring neo-soul singer Dwele. The song is one of the standout tracks on the album and just fits perfectly in Common’s lyrical range. The track is once again produced by Kanye West.
On “Break My Heart”, producer Kanye West follows his trademark stylistic production technique of speeding up a soul sample. The song is one of the catchiest songs on the album and features one of the best samples in recent memory. On the song Common raps about breaking hearts and the fear of women that he’ll break their hearts. The song is one of the best songs on the album.
On “Southside”, featuring and produced by Kanye West, Common and West trade verses based on the basic concept of the Southside. Since both of the rappers are natives of Chicago they go back and forth with catchy lines. The singing of West though partly ruins the track as he clearly isn’t the best vocalist.
On “Black Maybe”, producer once again speeds up a classic soul sample this time Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright’s “Black Maybe.” This time on their journey they are joined by neo-soul singer. The song is a solid song but doesn’t really stand out.
On “Driving Me Wild”, U.K. singer Lily Allen effortlessly flows over the Kanye West produced track. This is one of the few songs where Common takes a backseat to his guest star.
The Will.I.Am produced “I Want You” has the most potential viability to be considered as a crossover song. The song sounds as if it could have just as easily fit in on the Justin Timberlake album “FutureSex/LoveSounds” as easily as it fits in on “Finding Forever.” Although some hip hop purists will find the song as a cheesy attempt to crossover to the masses, it is still a catchy song and features an amazing breakdown and a catchy chorus featuring Will.I.Am.
“Finding Forever” just has the feel of an all around great album. Even the “Intro” which features no lyrics whatsoever is still a song you can listen to. This is one of the few albums where it is not recommended to skip a single song as the whole album taken as a whole makes the experience even more enjoyable.
Although “Finding Forever” is not as good as the now legendary “Be”, it is one of the best albums of the year. “Finding Forever” gets 9 out of 10 as one of the best urban albums of the year. Make sure you purchase “Finding Forever” when it’s available in stores on July 31st.