Common - Finding Forever - Review

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the C-O-double M-O-N once again along side his Chi-town comrade Kanye West (K-Dub). Following the commercial success of their first joint project, Be, the two hit the shelves once again with Common’s highly anticipated Finding Forever.

First off, I would like to clarify a small issue. My peers have been known to call me a K-Dub hater from time to time. Don’t get it twisted, Kanye is a very talented dude but I often find it hard to hear his music over his ego. With that said, I had a hard time accepting Mr. West as Common’s new P.N.C. on the Be project. Regardless of Common’s newfound mainstream success, I found Kanye’s presence on their first project to be overpowering. Similar to the Saturday Night Live sketch with Bruce Dickinson (played by Christopher Walken) and his infamous “more cowbell” catch phrase, Be left me asking for more Common. Finding Forever satisfies that request  to an extent.

There will never be another Like Water For Chocolate (R.I.P. Dilla) but the Com-Kanye connection has grown. The combination of Kanye’s beats and musical style with Common’s smooth flows and unmistakable cadence compliments each other better than ever. The result is an album full of bouncing beats, sharp lyrics and catchy hooks.  Basically, Finding Forever is good (or G.O.O.D.) music. The 12-track album can be played from end-to-end with no need to touch the dial. The musical styling exhibited on this album is sure to increase Common’s mainstream appeal and album sales. Unfortunately, as Common’s career reaches new financial heights, his music seems to lose its ability to dig beneath the surface and provide the rich music we all know he is capable of.

This album speaks to my ears, not my soul.

I found myself bumping it on repeat for a week or two then quickly losing interest. One of the things I love about every Outkast album is that there are songs you fall in love with from the jump-off and others that creep up on you like a midnight marauder. The ones that grow on you over time are the ones that become your favourites months after the album has already fallen from the public ear. There is nothing to discover with this new Common project. Everything sounds good from the jump and, as a result, all songs on the album fade away at the same rate of speed. Nothing stands out as being fantastic or groundbreaking.

There are no surprises. It’s all safe music.

You can’t please everyone all the time but this album is definitely intended to please the masses. There are no surprises and no obvious risks taken. The Kanye formula for success has been followed to the letter and the result is an album that falls about 2 stars short of Like Water For Chocolate but yet is guaranteed to pull in a lot more money. From Common’s perspective I can’t really argue with his direction. He hasn’t lost any street credibility with this project and is guaranteed to eat a lot better and reach what I’m sure will prove to be his largest audience to date.

Whether you bought your bandwagon ticket recently or you’ve been on board for the ride since Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Finding Forever is a worthwhile purchase as long as you don’t over-inflate your expectations. It’s good music but it won’t heal the world, save Hip Hop or be the catalyst for the revolution. It just feels and sounds good. If “Chi-Town’s Finest” can master a way to combine the commercial appeal of this album with some more emotional and thought-provoking soul food then we will all be in for something special.

Compared to the music being pushed through the mainstream today, Finding Forever would have to receive no less then 6 out of 5 stars. However, Common is in a class of his own and cannot be compared to his mainstream peers. He has proven that he is capable of producing some of the best albums in Hip Hop history. I look forward to his future projects and keep hopeful that he has another gem or two in store for the game.

Rhyme Revolution Rating: * * * *

Download: The People, Southside, The Game

Written By: Bruce Ramsay