Common
Finding Forever


2.5
average

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
July 31st, 2007 | 37 replies | 11,000 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An imitative, soulful mess. Fans will probably forget this is a Common album by the third or fourth track and it’s probably for the better.

It's pretty hard to come into this album without expectations. Common is an MC through and through; he's well respected, fairly renowned and, according to Gap, mildly fashionable. He solidified his place at the top of the Chicago hip-hop scene with Resurrection, Like Water for Chocolate and 2005's Be and, well, I'm sad to say it might be the end of an era.

For those who don't know, Finding Forever is a highly lauded effort. The only problem is it's highly lauded by producer, douchebag and fellow Chicago-native Kanye West. West, who also had a heavy hand in Be, has made no effort to subdue the hype. Not only did he guarantee a Grammy, he also touted his own chops by saying he'd "pay tribute to Dilla" and that he'd try to "bring back a really soulful feel". Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't he made a career off that? While you could easily assume that most fans of Kanye are unaware of his influences, true hip-hop heads recognize that Mr. West has made a career in ripping off Pete Rock, DJ Premier and J Dilla. Yes, believe it or not, Kanye wasn't the first to alter the pitch on a Nina Simone track.

Somewhere down the line, I think Kanye forgot he was working on a Common album.
Maybe it's his ego, or maybe he had something to prove, but regardless, the production on Finding Forever is weighty, distracting and, to add insult to injury, pretty atrocious. Not only is Mr. West virtually omnipresent on the production front, but he makes himself known by appearing unannounced throughout the course of the album.

"Start the Show" has West playing ringmaster, introducing the album as if it were his own, a theme consistently found on the disc. Midway through the track Common finally comes in, sounding restless and mostly uninterested, at least at first. Common's laid-back, "sounds sort of like he has a cold" flow is instantly recognizable and definitely at par with his past work, but sadly it's almost instantly drowned out by loud, poorly placed instrumentation.

Lead single "The People" is dominated by organs, shouts and actually starts off fairly promising. Common comes in fairly audible, but almost at the very instant he calls Kanye "the new Premo", what feels like an endless sea of samples kick in along with some intense frustration. As Common continually builds off the "oh" sound, often jumping back to "my daughter found Nemo/ I found the new Premo", soulful quips play yin to his yang. In short, "The People" is an alright track that's more than indicative of all the faults found on the album.

When Kanye's at the helm, Finding Forever is an overcomplicated mess. Common said that with this disc he'd "just rap", but the art is lost because you're hard pressed to actually notice his presence. Luckily, three of the eleven (discounting the intro) tracks on the album were produced by some other artists and, while they definitely fit into the soulful sound found on the album, they make a point of highlighting Common rather than overshadowing him.

The Devo Springsteen produced "Misunderstood" plays with Nina Simone's rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by adding bluesy guitar licks and all the while allowing the focus to remain on Common. "So Far to Go" is an obvious highlight because in the end it's just three old-pals kickin' it. Produced by the late J Dilla and featuring D'Angelo, the track has three of the stronger Soulquarians at the top of their game. Conveniently enough, "The Game" is possibly the only other track I'd recommend. Produced by West and featuring DJ Premier's scratches, "The Game" has a real 90s vibe and while it's bloated with samples, Common spits lines like "Make cuts and got gashes, scratches over third eyelashes/Punchlines are like jab pits to rappers" enthusiastically.

As "The Game" so bluntly puts it, you've got to be in it to win it. Obviously, some people took that to heart and as a result Finding Forever comes off sounding like everyone behind it was trying way too hard. While it's obvious Common & co. are dealing with the loss of Dilla, I'd take the production as an insult more than a tribute; sure, it's reminiscent of Dilla but when you hear the track the late producer had his hand in you realize just how contrived it actually is.

The disc is hook laden but the hooks are bland. The rapping is heartfelt but forgettable and, "So Far To Go", easily the highlight of the album, is actually a track of J Dilla's posthumous The Shining. There's a lot of talk about living forever through music on the disc, and you have to wonder why that idea wasn't followed more rigorously. Remember those who have fallen by paying respect to their craft, not by vehemently ripping it off. Fans will probably forget this is a Common album by the third or fourth track and it's probably for the better.

Pardon me, but I'm going to go listen to "I Used to Love H.E.R" and cry a little.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
July 31st 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5


Review is almost as awkward as the album. My bad.

Zebra
Moderator
July 31st 2007



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

[quote=review]When Kanye's at the helm, Finding Forever is an overcomplicated mess.[/quote] I wouldn't say that the album is overcomplicated it's just extremely bland and uninspired. I agree with this review for the most part even though I'd rate it slightly lower.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 31st 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I say it's overcomplicated because there's just too much going on. I found it hard to focus when I listened to this. I'll probably change my rating to a 2, but I don't really care about ratings too much.

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2007



6085 Comments


Yeah, I was thinking of doing this but you basically said how I feel. I do like Drivin' Me Wild a lot, though.

pulseczar
July 31st 2007



2385 Comments


The thing that makes me mad about Kanye is that he now has a legion of idiotic fans who call him "legendary" and "innovative". It's stupid. I mean I'd respect him more as a producer if he'd stay in his place, but on top of his bland MCing and bloated albums...
Good review, I never really liked Common that much anyway.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 31st 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I just can't stand how overstated Kanye's presence is. Have you heard Common's Resurrection, or are you just not a fan?

pulseczar
July 31st 2007



2385 Comments


I just can't stand how overstated Kanye's presence is. Have you heard Common's Resurrection, or are you just not a fan?

I've just never really felt like checking him out based on his guest spots and singles, but I could see him having some good stuff.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2007



16081 Comments


"Ressurection" was great but "Be" sucked so I dont plan on checking this out anyways. Decent review even if it was kinda everywhere.

Tyler
Emeritus
July 31st 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I think it's obvious I had a hard time writing this. I wrote like 4 totally different reviews and just said "fuck it" and posted this one.

Oddsen
July 31st 2007



1127 Comments


Nice review. Common is probably my favorite newer rapper and its a bummer this doesn't seem so good

mozartv
August 2nd 2007



27 Comments


From what I've heard off of this album, this is better than whats been said about it. So far I would give it probably a 3.5. Its nothing amazing buts it's 100% better than whats popular in rap today.

Tyler
Emeritus
August 2nd 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

. Its nothing amazing buts it's 100% better than whats popular in rap today.

I frankly don't give a shit what's popular and how shitty it is. I reviewed it in context of what it sounds like and how much better Common is capable of. This rating is very, very generous.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2007



2634 Comments


The reviewer for my local paper nearly splooged over this album, but I didn't really buy what he was selling. This is a really good review, by the way.

blackmilk
August 2nd 2007



584 Comments


This album is really good 'cause Common doesn't talk about bitches and hoes and money.

Fort23
August 2nd 2007



2474 Comments


Never liked Common very much. His "message" is cool I guess, but all in all, his music is pretty boring.
Nice review too.

SpinLightTwo
August 6th 2007



1023 Comments


The commercial for this is ridiculous.


Bfhurricane
August 6th 2007



6194 Comments


Good review. This was on sale at Starbucks, his picture on the front reminded me of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Only... black.

Iai
Emeritus
August 9th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This ain't so bad.

handsomerob2
August 17th 2007



58 Comments


A review in a newspaper I read said this was an instant classic. Then again, the same newspaper reported that a ton of albums that ARE classics were horrendous. You can never trust newspaper reviewers, I guess.

blackmilk
August 17th 2007



584 Comments


When I first saw the cover, I thought he had a wig on. It's terrible.



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