Hip Hop fans are a funny breed I tell you. Many folks for many years have looked to Common as a savior of sorts. It can all be traced to his seminal cut “I Used To Love Her,” because anyone that capable of breaking down the game like that is surely capable of righting the wrongs, right? But there is no saving what doesn’t want to be saved; all he can do is write the wrongs. As Com‘s traditional b-boy evolved into an experimentalist, his fans battled his direction and tried to keep him in their nicely constructed boxes. The result has been one of the most talented brothers to ever grace this culture being held to an unwavering scrutiny that would break most men. Like the old adage goes, you can’t please them all. It has been apparent Common doesn’t adhere to traditional thinking, which would explain why he has gone and pleased them all.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of you reading this aren’t pleased, but shit, did you hear the reaction to “Electric Circus.” Album number six is Common coming full circle, returning to a vibe that etched his name into the annals of history in 1993. It just so happened that a friend and fellow Chi-Town native has brought back a sound that was the signature of the early 90’s. Some things are just meant to BE.
Much like his PNC Kanye West, Common brings his album to the masses with a single like no other on the radio. Backed by one of ‘Ye‘s finest beats to date, Common brings you to “The Corner.” A vivid cut that mixes Hip Hop’s street sensibilities with Com‘s gift for analysis. While many will likely expect the album to follow that sound, “BE” on the whole is much smoother than its hard single. This will become more apparent with the silky second single “Go” hits the airwaves. “Faithful” and “Love Is” follow a similar vibe, and both feature Common at his best touching on something close to everyone’s heart.
As has been the case his entire career, Common is at his best when he is getting introspective. Which is why the intro and title track are among the finest moments (the ridiculous beat from Kanye and Dilla doesn’t hurt either). The pinnacle comes with; “Waitin’ for the lord to rise/I looked into my daughters eyes/and realize I’ma learn through her/the messiah might even return through her/if I’ma do it, I gotta change the world through her.” Of course Com has never been a slouch when it comes to the art of storytelling and “Testify” is no exception. His twisting story of the Queenpin is highlighted by Kanye‘s ever-excellent use of vocal samples. Kanye‘s horns on “Real People” damn near steal the show too, if only Common didn’t keep up so effortlessly with his breezy flow.
Like any great album, there is no shortage of description or accolades that I could fill this review with. I could go on for days, cause I haven’t even mentioned the like of “Chi City” or “It’s Your World,” but I only have so much room here. So maybe I’ll get to the part that everyone wants to know; is this better than Resurrection? It’s a great album and some of the easiest 42 minutes of listening you’ll ever do, but better than his sophomore opus? I don’t know, ask me in 12 years. For now, just let it BE.