Sunday, May 24, 2015

Common "Be" (Vibe Review, June 2005)


"With fellow Chi-Towner Kanye West behind the boards, Common returns with his sixth and perhaps best efort to date, Be. Like a train ride through the 'hood, the concise, 11-track opus steamrolls through the images, stories, and emotions of urban folks getting by any way they know how. Overflowing with passion, honesty, and optimism, Be gets to the root of human experience - all the while staying beautifully soulful and funky. The lucid block imagery and stripped-down beat of Be's first single, "The Corner," sets the raw, back-to-basics tone for the rest of the album. Pounding drums and a sparse bass riff open up space for Common to fire away photographic descriptions... Common's egalitarian vision comes through even harder on "Testify," a narrative about a girlfriend going through the tribulations of her boyfriend's trial, and "It's Your World," a tale about a college dropout who becomes a prostitute... Common's details of heroines standing by their hustlin' men while associating with "thieves and baseheads," capture the utter despair of being backed in a corner." Check out the visuals to the Kanye West-produced track, "The Corner," cont'd below...


"But for all of Be's poignant moments, the largely '70s-laced production keeps the album triumphant and head-nodding throughout. Jay Dee drops wicked drums and a chopped Marvin Gaye vocal sample on the warm and fuzz "Love Is." Kanye stretches a trumpet note over a twisting wah-wah guitar and record-scratching on the battle song "Chi City," prompting Common to shoot off venomous punch lines.... If anything, Be gets docked for Common's recycling of topics and lyrical tricks. Some will argue that lines like "I stand for the blue collar" are self-righteous. Still, he more than makes up for these banalities with his evolution from a 40-toting street poet to an earthy soulchild to a dynamic artist. Yes, Common Sense is back and better than ever. Grab a plate, and feed your mind, body, and soul." - Vibe Magazine, June 2005. Check the full review down below...