With the 2002 release of Electric Circus, his fifth studio release, Common proves that "hip hop is changing" (as noted on "I Got a Right Ta"). Common's interpretation of hip hop is highly evolved; making it difficult to think he is the same emcee who dropped Can I Borrow a Dollar? in 1992. Along with much musical insight from the Roots' ?uestlove, Common dares to test the imaginary barriers that sometimes restrict hip hop.
Tracks like "Electric Wire Hustler Flower" (featuring Sonny of POD) and "Jimi Was a Rock Star" (with Comm's soul mate Erykah Badu) appear here with little relevance to this genre on any level. Neither does the space-esque feel of "New Wave" (which features Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab) contribute any of the usual suspects of Common's usual richly-nourished hip hop smoothness. This is still irrelevant in the jazzy feel of Common's collaboration with soul woman Jill Scott on "I Love Music."
But we never venture too far from our roots, as displayed on tracks "Soul Power" and "The Hustle." There is also a prominent love theme ("Star *69 (PS With Love) and "Between Me, You & Liberation") which is always 'common' to this emcee's records. The Neptunes-produced "Come Close" (co-starring the ever-amazing Mary J. Blige) warms the mainstreamers' cold hearts as the MTV-friendly first single. This track, which was produced by the Neptunes, accompanies the previously-mentioned "New Wave" as personal favorites to this essential disc.
The material found on Electric Circus is the kind of results musicians aim for when they decide to format their sometimes over-consistent sound. But seldom do musicians yield results as respectable as the ones from this eclectic soul child. Common truly embraces a 'new wave' in music with his taste of brilliance on Electric Circus.
Crystal at 11/16/2004 11:17:00 AM