Music » CD Reviews

Common

Electric Circus (MCA)

by

comment
"Hip-hop is changing/Y'all want me to stay the same?" asks our host, somewhere in the midst of a startling three-ring spectacle featuring everyone from Erykah Badu and the Roots' "?uestlove" to Prince and Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. A similarly accomplished troupe also graced Common's last outing, 2000's Like Water for Chocolate, which recast the Chicago rapper as a member of the East Coast neosoul vanguard. But Electric Circus's neopsychedelia flips Like Water's masterful soul-jazz inside out and back again, as if Common wants to expose the style's hard bones and pulsing guts as well as its beautiful skin.

But unlike the Roots, whose brilliant new Phrenology never shies from lyrical "Complexity," Common still strives to honor his name in his raps. So from "a fly love song" like "Come Close" to an amoral depiction of "The Hustle" to a search for "Heaven Somewhere" that never loses its faith, this astounding breakthrough sees Common answering the rhetorical question posed above with both a nod and a head shake, making a full circle as he goes.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.