It is safe to say that every artist has an album they're not very proud of. They actually wish they never made that album and neither do the fans or the media. Common never was much into the limelight until his relationship with Erykah Badu and then his 'breakout' hit caught the attention of the media with 'The Light'. Common was now destined to become the next big thing, but then came Electric Circus. It was an album criticized by the fans and the media and it was the album that just about everyone wished he never made. Although it was innovative and something new to hip hop, it was simply hated on. This made Common want to go full circle and come back to his roots.
Fast forward two and half years, with a new label, a new producer, and a drive, Common has made the best 40 minutes plus of hip-hop this year. The new album Be is just 11 tracks long, but every track is something you feel. With Kanye West producing a majority of the tracks and Jay Dee chipping in two of his own, Common's energy is in them all. Although the tempo has its ups and downs throughout the album, the flow of it is beautiful.
From the into 'Be', the guitar chords catch your attention, and the beat hits you. Whether this is just an intro or a track, it is strong and you can tell Common wants this to be memorable. Then drops the infectious single 'The Corner' where it feels rugged and the fat paced lyrics grab you with authority. Within in the first six minutes, you know this is something special.
The true gem of Be hands down is 'Testify'. Common's storytelling of a man on trial for murder will end with his wife crying on the stands, but it takes a wild turn. The sampled hooks and the way they're blended into it all is masterfully done by Kanye and it has become my favorite joint of the year.
Although this whole album is a highlight, the others to pay attention to are 'They Say' with John Legend and Kanye West, 'Love Is' and 'Chi City' where Common lets you know "I rap with the Passion of Christ/ nigga/ cross me/took it out of space/ and niggas thought they lost me."
Every track is solid from start to finish, and the finish is what makes Common's album be. 'It's Your World Part 1 & 2' finishes off the album with random quotes and wishes of people of what they want to be. That was Common's journey for this album, to be, and that is what Common wants for you to do.