The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fall Into the Crap: Common's Finding Forever

We all should've known this was coming. There were those Zoolander Gap Ads. The burgeoning bad acting career. The Gay Jedi album cover. And that odd-couple b.f.f. relationship with Jeremy "I'm Just Happy I'm Famous and Able to Get Girls Now" Piven. But a decade and half after Can I Borrow A Dollar, Common has managed to drop the worst album of his career. And it isn't even close. With Finding Forever, Common has become the worst type of rapper: one with nothing to say.

Before all the Okayplayers start flashing their back-pack signal (like the bat-signal but more into Mos Def), let the record state that I've always liked Common. Hell, I even really liked Electric Circus, a record that made most long-time Common fans want to show up at Erykah Badu's house with guns and pitchforks. But even the most staunch Electric Circus haters have to admit that there was a something noble about Common's desire to innovate and test the boundary between the worlds of hip-hop, soul, & electronica.

Instead of trying to create up something new and innovative, Common has stumbled into the black hole that often plagues veteran artists: the desire to clone their most popular albums. Indeed, Finding Forever feels like a caricature of Common's most commercially popular records, Like Water For Chocolate and Be. Enlisting Kanye behind the boards, Common reprises his tired "for the people," cracker-averse, loverman persona that he's plowed for a half dozen records, while Kanye lazily attempts to channel the spirit of J. Dilla.
And Then Me and Jeremy Went to the Grove and He Picked Out This Adorable Sweater for me...It was from the Gap...Obvs!
Common's strong suit has always been his ability to pare smart lyrics with a smooth, captivating flow. But Finding Forever finds him at his most creatively barren, exhausting everything he has to say. Constantly, the man born Lonnie Lynn treads overly familiar ground, stuck in the Latte Rap, Kingdom Come school of US Weekly lyricism, lamely name dropping the likes of Akeelah The Bee, Finding Nemo, Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillippe, & Lance Bass, among many others. I suppose we should all be thankful he didn't refer to her as Reese Witherspeezie (Jay-Z...you are dead to me).

The production matches the listless lyricism, with Kanye sounding stale, as though he's burned through all the good soul samples he knows. In an effort to emulate Dilla's production, West chops his samples up a bit more than usual, but the attempts seem ham-handed, particularly in contrast to one actual Dilla beat, "So Far to Go." Of course, this is still a Common record, and there are inevitably moments when he's able to summon up his old fastball. The first single "The People" finds Common sounding fierce and hungry (if not lyrically mediocre), over a West-supplied MF Doom biting beat. "The Southside" with Kanye West is solid, if nothing else for Kanye's Back to the Future babbling . But those fleeting moments of excellence are few and far between and when they do happen, they're immediately followed up by inane bitching about "white folks focusing on dogs and yoga."

Beyond uneven beats and dull lyrics, it's Finding Forever's dearth of ideas that prove the most damning. Commencing with a tepid minute-plus instrumental and concluding with more of Common's father (Capt. Obvious) rambling about global warming, everything here has already been done before, and done better. When all is said and done, the only way that this record will find forever is in its lot to be permanently consigned to the record store bargain bin.

Download:
MP3: Common-"The People"
MP3: Common-"Play Your Cards Right" (UK Bonus Track)

16 Comments:

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous floodwatch said...

Everything about this package makes me vomit a little in my mouth. The title of it alone is reason enough for me to stay the hell away from it, to say nothing of the shockingly atrocious cover art. I thought I would be at least slightly curious about this record a few months ago, but I have absolutely no desire to hear it.

HILARIOUS photo caption, by the way, Weiss.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger douglas martin said...

"your fly's open, mcfly."

as much as i wasn't really into finding forever upon first listen, the drums on "southside" crash like a motherfucker, and kanye turns in what is possibly his hungriest guest verse ever. as much as his ego runs amuck all over the pop community, it's nice to see him actually try to become the great rapper he claims to be.

the beats do kinda devolve into that "dilla for dummies" mode, but i'd much rather hear kanye bite dilla than these two-note beats from radio-ready crunk-pop artists.

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger Ekko said...

I got to admit, I was never super impressed with Common. I know that makes me a minority, but this album proves my point, I think. He's always been in search of something commercial, something that would sell, something . . . Common.

 
At 8:09 PM, Blogger travis said...

Haven't heard it and not sure I want

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I wouldn't bother. It was just like hearing Kingdom Come, impossible not to cringe at least once every eight bars.

 
At 2:00 AM, Blogger ian/thoreauly77 said...

fuck. everywhere i swivel in my desk chair i read the same thing: finding forever gets the boze. hey weiss, how do you feel about black hollywood being around 25% apache mixtape?

 
At 2:16 AM, Anonymous dudeasincool said...

"And Then Me and Jeremy Went to the Grove and He Picked Out This Adorable Sweater for me...It was from the Gap...Obvs!"


LOL

 
At 2:16 AM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I think like 12 people heard Ft. Apache, 11 of them connected with Internet blogging, so I feel their decision to go with their strongest set of songs is smart. Hopefully, a lot more people will hear this than the mixtape. Besides, a mixtape is a mixtape. Pharoahe did the same thing with Desire, Kanye leaked a few album tracks on Can't Tell Me Nothing.

 
At 6:12 PM, Anonymous David said...

In an interview with In Style, Piven describes Common as "one of my fashion icons," then brags about introducing Common to some people in Italy to manufacture his new line of hats. True story.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous mooosejaw9 said...

This album is amazing, this blog could not be further from the truth. Listen to this album more than once through and you will fall in love.

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger kiss out the jams said...

You nailed it, Jeff, though I wouldn't say Common's ever had an abundance to say. It's just that we never minded because his ear for melodious sidewalk beats granted like, Be, a flow that didn't need A-game rapping to work. "The People" and "South Side" are really the only ones here with a tune so as to not be a total waste, and both sound much more worthwhile in the context of the Kanye mixtape. It's a shame because he totally let himself turn into the caricature of blandness that Common haters have always accused.

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Bushwick is Beautiful said...

We loved the cover art

 
At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone who knocks this album like this person so ignorantly did is just that, ignorant about hip hop. beats don't have to be club bangers for them to be good. Kanye did a great job imitating J Dilla's style of beats, anyone who actually listened to J Dilla's beats can tell you that. And Common is on point as always touching various subjects that aren't just about rims and money. Talk about what you know.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger JalapeƱo Bootyhole said...

Nice review, but I'll still have to check it out myself. I mean, it's Com', he's one of the greatest.

Are you talking about any MF Doom track specifically?

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Neahe said...

Yall are haters.
This album is pretty dope.

Its the #1 rap album right now aswell, look at the numbers on the billboard...

I cant beleive yall hatin on Common like this...WOW...

The most consistant artist and 1 of the top 10 artist of all time yo....

How many of yall do good hip hop music, if you say that you do then your lieing. Cause if you did, you wouldnt be able to clown my man Com like that...

The album is hott, Kenye killed it with the production, Common murdered it with the lyrics. Dont hate...Show Love...

 
At 8:29 AM, Anonymous VIBE HOTT said...

My immediate reaction was to type a slew of negative words directed at the ones who had nothing but negative things to say about this excellent album. Then I had to reevaluate, for I knew that would put me in the boat filled with ignorance like all the others. It's ridiculous that people will do anything to hate on someone who is actually trying to make a difference. Music is lost, who is going to find it? Who is going to bring it back?! Thank God for Common, Kanye, The Roots, Erykah Badu... need I say more. I can't hear about rims, two-steppin, money, b*tches, parties, liquor... we are KILLING ourselves! But yet people don't like conscious rap... let's all pick it apart shall we! Oh no, he mentioned "Akeelah and the Bee" that's horrible! Why? Because it's about a young Black INTELLIGENT girl! Who doesn't walk around speaking ebonics because her mind has been corrupted by songs like "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It." This is every bit of absurd. But people will keep projecting hate, and negativity will breed negativity until we all fall down! Thank you to my Brothers and Sisters who just can't seem to get their shyt together! I'm glad I bought the cd, and I would buy it again. It's the best album I have heard in a while. Thankfully there are others out there like me who will support the people who DO have something to say, and who aren't AFRAID to address the issues at hand!

~SAVE US!

 

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