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Idol Chatter

Ever since I heard Common‘s “Retrospect for Life,” a track off his 1997 release “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” where he ruminates on the mistakes he made as a premature father, I fell in love. I loved his ability to bring introspective thought to music that was all about gang-banging.
He was an envelope-pusher, choosing to rhyme about the ills of the black working class in his Chicago ‘hood while other rappers decided to forget their ‘hood and rap about money, cash, and that other expletive. He was–and is–a renaissance man in a society of simpletons. But none of these things moved me more than his spirit. He has an old soul that always gives thanks to the “Most High,” to the ancestors, to Allah, and to God. And although some may believe he is too ecumenical, it showed me that knowledge of other faiths cultivates true understanding of your own faith.
Like a good and faithful servant, I have followed his career, bought every album, gone to the shows, and read almost every article I’ve ever seen about him. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to say a word or two about his latest album, “Finding Forever.”


FindingForever_idol.jpgExecutive produced by multi-platinum recording artist and producer Kanye West, “Finding Forever” is a look at the world through Common’s eyes. Like Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, West leads Common to a new sound that complements his raw-lyrical flow.
It’s a heavily-sampled album, with help from Nina Simone, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Gil Scott Heron, to name a few. But as West says on “They Say,” a track from Common’s last album, “Be,” “God don’t ever give me nothing I can’t handle, so please don’t ever give me records I can’t sample.” Slick production aside, Common’s grasp on spirituality is stronger than ever and appears throughout the album. One learns that he waits for the gods to align him with a long lost love in “I Want You.” He starts his day by giving thanks to the most high in “The Game.” And like many of us, he wonders if the roll call for heaven is ever going to come in “Forever Begins.”
In addition to considering God and the heavens, Common gives light to social issues, such as the tragedy of ghetto life, gross materialism, global warming, teenage excess a la MTV’s “Sweet Sixteen,” and the overwhelming lack of knowledge and love of self that saturates our society–and on some level makes many of us feel inadequate.
“Finding Forever” will be all things to all people–Christian and otherwise–because of Common’s ability to speak to nations. Every man, woman, boy, and girl will be able to find a portion of themselves in this music. And I do believe that he has accomplished his goal of “finding a place in music where you can exist forever.”
In support of an artist that successfully brings his spiritual and secular side together to create a palatable form of hip-hop, I say burn it–a.k.a. buy it. But buyer beware, some of the album’s content isn’t kid-friendly, and some might think it’s of the bonfire-burning kind, so I advise that you keep it away from the 18 and under set and spiritual babes. In other words, for mature audiences/believers only.
By the way, if you don’t know what “Burn or Burn” is all about, read about it here.

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