Common Finding Forever

Common Finding Forever

While the title of Common’s seventh album is supposed to conjure up a whimsical search for enduring relevance and timelessness, it seems most apparent that what Common has actually found is his comfort zone. Ever since he debuted in 1992, Common has undertaken one of the most compelling evolutionary journeys in hip-hop, morphing from a thesaurus-clutching cipher-dweller to bohemian elder statesman along the way. However, Finding Forever in its overall execution is quite similar to its predecessor, 2005’s Be. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Common’s unerring eye for detail on the ear-candy populism of "The People,” flair for the cautionary narrative on "Black Maybe” and humour on the addictive, Lily Allen-assisted "Driving Me Wild” are thankfully intact, as is executive producer Kanye West’s relatively restrained approach — well, by his standards anyway. However, by following the blueprint of his previous record, clunkers like amorous venture "I Want You,” an area where Common usually excels, are magnified. And while Common’s wordplay can still cause you to press rewind, his lyrical content self-consciously courts a wider audience, at times, much to its detriment. While Finding Forever is undoubtedly one of the strongest rap albums to emerge this year, it’s also an album by one of hip-hop’s most consistently creative MCs, one whose reliance on admittedly potent past exploits makes this a very good, but not great, affair. (Geffen)