A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Undercover: The Day Of The Dead The Hi-Lo Food Show
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Great Job, Internet! Newswire
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Common: Finding Forever

B+

Common

Album: Finding Forever
Label: G.O.O.D

Community Grade

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F
?

Your Grade

?

With 2002's Electric Circus, Common rocketed deliriously into the outer limits of sonic experimentation, at least as far as major-label hip-hop is concerned. On 2005's Be, he returned triumphantly to Earth with a sound as intimate and soothing as a warm bath after a hard day's work. Now comes Finding Forever, another Kanye West-engineered opus that picks up exactly where Be left off. It feels less like a sequel than an extension of Be, though the uncanny resemblance is both a major strength and its biggest weakness. Forever boasts nearly all of Be's homey virtues: It's tight, cohesive, devoid of filler, refreshingly brisk (at 50 minutes long), and sonically and lyrically focused. In an age of production-by-committee and double-digit guest rosters, it's the work of one MC and one producer (Kanye West) blessed with rare chemistry and a strong mutual vision.

Yet Forever never hits Be's transcendent heights. The standout track "Forever Begins" follows the blueprint of Be's "It's Your World (Pts. 1 & 2)"—epic length and feel, spoken-word interlude by Common's dad, classy sample—closely enough to suffer by comparison. Beyond an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, Forever's biggest weakness is Common's questionable return to the pop-culture punchlines of his earliest work. All too often, those cross the line separating playfully loose from corny: Common is too gifted a poet to waste his time with Lance Bass gay jokes, or timeless Break-Up references. It's nice to hear DJ Premier's signature scratching on "The Game," but Forever could benefit from more sonic curveballs. Common and West have found a style that works, commercially and creatively. That makes it the perfect time to start taking more risks.