Common delivers one of year’s best – again
Known for his great storytelling and thought-provoking lyrics, Common is one of the most respected musicians in the music world. Thanks to a short track listing that featured nothing but great songs and no filler, his 2005 LP Be was hailed as one of that year’s best. The artist’s latest work, Finding Forever, similarly contains a slim amount of songs, with 13 on the album. But does it repeat the success of Be?
The intro song perfectly sets the mood of the album: a laid back melody that features no words plays for about a minute. It is fitting because the rest of the album is very laid-back and showcases a grown-up vibe from Common. The intro segues into "Start the Show" where an excellent beat is topped with a melodic piano pattern during the verses, which then fades away and transitions to chanting during the chorus.
As usual, Common’s quotes are up to par: "the motto: think fast, drive slow, survival is the throttle" and have simple, but memorable lines, such as when he explains, "half of it is what you say, and half is style." The outro of the song contains excerpts from Com’s live performances, where he instructs the crowd to make more noise: "Y’all can get more louder than that…. Louder!" This leads perfectly into the next song, "The People," which ties the two together with a sample of the word "louder" during it’s opening seconds.
"The People" is one of the best tracks on the LP, and is one of Common’s many songs that the average person can relate to. Com explains his motive for creating music: "This is radio for unsung heroes, we do it for the people" and reflects on his growth as a person that started within himself: "Nobody believed, until I believed me / Now I’m on the rise / Vision’s realized / Music’s affecting lives / A gift from the skies to be recognized / I’m keeping my eyes on the people: that’s the prize." Dwele also contributes to the song with a smooth chorus, where he explains, "Just take your time."
While "The People" is a great song, it’s the unique, layered beat of "Drivin’ Me Wild," that makes the album. What first sounds like a sample of an Indian song is actually UK artist Lily Allen singing repeated background vocals. The chorus, which Allen also sings, is deep, but at the same time catchy: "It’s this thing now, that’s drivin’ me wild / I gotta see what’s up before it gets me down / No, it’s not a mystery, it’s everything."
In the three verses, Common’s tells about different situations that tie into the theme of the chorus, and about what happens when people sometimes try too hard for something: "It’s a shame what they do for fame and to be respected / Joe, you coulda got it if you never woulda stressed it." But Common doesn’t preach and admits that he is one of those many people that made the same mistakes: "I guess we all been through it where we try too much."
Songs like these make the first half of the album excellent, and while the second half has strong songs as well, such as "Misunderstood", the first half is slightly better. It’s a short album that you can listen to without skipping songs, but the material and subjects are incredibly interesting. Common Sense has done it again and released an album that listeners can turn to when they want something with substance that relates to life in general.