Common-Electric Circus (2002)

My Rating: 69% (C+)

Pitchfork Rating: 65%

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 80%

Average Rating: 69%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Ferris Wheel (Feat. Vinia Mojica & Marie Daulne)
  2. Soul Power
  3. Aquarius (Feat. Bilal & Erykah Badu)
  4. Electric Wire Hustler Flower (Feat. Sonny Sandoval)
  5. The Hustle (Feat. Omar & Dart Chillz)
  6. Come Close (Feat. Mary J. Blige)
  7. New Wave (Feat. Laetitia Sadier)
  8. Star 69 (P.S. With Love) (Feat. Bilal & Prince)
  9. I Got A Right Ta (Feat. Pharrell)
  10. Between Me, You And Liberation
  11. I Am Music (Feat. Jill Scott)
  12. Jimi Was A Rock Star (Feat. Erykah Badu)
  13. Heaven Somewhere (Feat. Omar, Cee-Lo Green, Bilal, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu & Pops)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Just taking it easy on a rainy lazy day.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s kind of ugly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

Common makes great tunes, but not always great albums, which is exactly the case with Electric Circus, a fairly uneven record with some catchy tracks dispersed throughout. Hip-Hop is a hard genre to make a completely even album, what with the tendency to over-use interludes and the constant guest appearances, but that doesn’t excuse the case here. Sometimes I wonder if emcees are actually putting together a planned album, or if they are just putting a seemingly random set of tracks that they had stored for a rainy day, regardless Electric Circus is certainly not a bad album, it’s just uneven and a little sloppy at times.

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Common-Be (2005)

My Rating: 86% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: 86%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 83%

Average Rating: 84%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Be (Intro)
  2. The Corner (Feat. Kanye West & The Last Poets)
  3. Go! (Feat. Kanye West & John Mayer)
  4. Faithful (Feat. Bilal & John Legend)
  5. Testify
  6. Love Is… (Feat. Luna E)
  7. Chi-City (Feat. Kanye West)
  8. The Food (Live) (Feat. Kanye West)
  9. Real People
  10. They Say (Feat. Kanye West & John Legend)
  11. It’s Your World (Feat. Bilal)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

A jazz fan that wants to get into hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s original and now kind of iconic, I’m a big fan.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

For sure!

Final Thoughts:

Common is no stranger to mainstream hip-hop heads, mostly because Kanye and him collaborate quite often. His albums are usually pretty solid choices, if not a little too predictable, but Be is a definite stand out in his discography. From the opening track the listener is reminded that Hip-Hop is only a bastard child of Jazz, and Common reminds us that the two genres can and should be meshed together. The album is consistently political, positive, and chill. Common is on top of his game, he has something to prove on this album, his voice must be considered whenever hip-hop is being discussed. Common stands out as a solo act, it’s awesome to see him take the reins on Be, I feel like this album was in very good hands, and I’m stoked to look into the rest of his discography to see what else he does with hip-hop.

Common-Black America Again (2016)

My Rating: 67% (C+)

Pitchfork Rating: 79%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 88%

Average Rating: 78%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Joy And Peace
  2. Home
  3. Word From Moe Luv Interlude
  4. Black America Again
  5. Love Star
  6. On A Whim Interlude
  7. Red Wine
  8. Pyramids
  9. A Moment In The Sun Interlude
  10. Unfamiliar
  11. A Bigger Picture Called Free
  12. The Day Women Took Over
  13. Rain
  14. Little Chicago Boy
  15. Letter To The Free

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Mad at the way things are going and want a positive voice to share your frustrations.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s really great, really original.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not really.

Final Thoughts:

Black America Again is an obviously politically charged album with a lot to offer to those of us fed up with the system, but it’s not as epic as one would hope. There are a few really great tracks to sink (Red Wine and Letter To The Free being standouts for me). But as far as albums that will have any lasting impression I don’t think this will be one of them. The album is filled with a lot of dead space which makes it difficult to find its theme, especially when you really want some biting lyrics from Common. He performs admirably and passionately as is to expected from him, but it’s more of the same, not an album that necessarily stands out as either his crown jewel or a major misstep, it’s just another addition to his discography that I’m happy to have, but not writing home about.

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