Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Common explored the world to return to where his soul began to find magic in this vintage testimonial to freedom, to peace, and to love.    Following the breakthrough success of 'Like Water For Chocolate' with the ambitious 'Electric Circus' saw Common getting lost as MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records.  The album floundered on the charts with little promotion and, after appearing on Kanye West's The College Dropout, Common signed with West's newly formed GOOD Music label.   West would collaborate with Common extensively on his next album 'Be'; with West producing most of the tracks (James Yancey aka J Dilla produced two).  The sessions took place at  Sony Music Studios in New York, New York;   Encore Studios in Burbank, California;  and  Pay Jay in Clinton Township, Michigan   with contributions from  Kanye West,  James Poyser,  Derrick Hodge,  DJ A-Trak,  N. Amuntehu,  K. Lewis,  DJ Dummy, K. Riggins,  The Last Poets,  John Mayer,  Bilal,  John Legend, Luna E, and Lonnie Lynn.    The album features numerous samples from various obscure old school sources:         "Mother Nature" by Albert Jones;  "You Make the Sun Shine" by The Temprees;  "What It Is" by The Temptations;  "Old Smokey" by Linda Lewis;  "Faithful to the End" by DJ Rogers;  "Innocent Til Proven Guilty" by Honey Cone;  "God Is Love" by Marvin Gaye;  "Since I Found My Baby" by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose;  "I Never Had It So Good and Felt So Bad" by The Chi-Lites;  "Nothing Can Change This Love" by Sam Cooke;  "Sweet Children" by Caesar Frazier;  "Ghetto Child" by Ahmad Jamal;   "Papa Wings" by Stanley Turrentine;  and  "Share What You Got" by The Modulation.

Common says:  "The album is entitled Be because the hardest thing to do is to be yourself, although many think it's the easiest it's really not. Being is just to exist, you don't have to try hard to do anything because God gave us each an individual and unique characteristic that is the core of who we are. So Be is just about that, being whoever you are, where ever you are ... The way it came about in the album was everything was natural and everything creative came out in a natural way. I mean I really didn't want to try to innovate or try to do what I did last album, because with every album I'm like, 'I gotta try to do something different, I gotta come better than the last album.' But with this album, I just breathed. A lot of people want me to go back to Resurrection, but I can't go back I can only go forward. What we did try to do was capture the spirit and the essence of [Ressurection] while also showing my growth and that's what we did for [Be] ... I think Electric Circus was just a part of my evolution and my experimentation as an artist and it was kind of like since this was my fifth album I was trying to continue to grow and elevate in what I was doing. To me what changed the most is that I got more in tune with myself and more grounded. Electric Circus was me and I don't apologize for it, it is was it is and it's something I created, so it's a piece of my art. With this album I did something simple and raw because it felt good to me at this time. When I did Electric Circus I wanted to go way out there because I was tired of how Hip-Hop was sounding, that's why I did it like that. But with Be, I actually like some of the Hip-Hop now, but besides that I am more hungry on the creative side ... [Kanye and I] made this music together. We were both hungry and excited and we did what we were proud of.  He is a honest dude on how he feels like, he may say I can freak this verse up or I was honest like we need a better beat for this but it all came together like fam.  It has a timeless feel to it you should be able to play this years from now ... I knew Kanye since 96 and he was working a lot with a producer at a time called No ID.  I got to know Kanye he was this young hungry like confident cat that would come around and he would always want to battle with me on the mic.  I have known him for a minute but we never got up on any music but we got together at the right time because his music was a vintage music for me to lay my rhymes down and we made good songs ... Kanye is definitely helping to create this album which is helping my career, but it still came from me; I had to be dope or else it wouldn't work. I do feel that he has been an element as far as bringing raw Hip-Hop back in general. So he definitely is a factor in making this album incredible and bringing me to audiences who may have never heard from me before."

'Be' was his first album to chart in several countries, going to number one hundred and two in France, ninety-three in Germany, seventy-three in the Netherlands, sixty-one in Ireland, thirty-eight in the UK, twenty-six in Switzerland, ten in Canada, two on the US pop chart, and number one on the US rap and R&B album charts.  It made its debut at number two and went on to be certified gold in the US, where it was nominated for four Grammys, including Best Rap Album,  Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (for "The Corner" featuring The Last Poets),  Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (for "They Say" featuring Kanye West and John Legend),  and  Best Rap Song (for"Testify).   



"The Corner"


"They Say"

"The Food"

Common & Kanye - The Food (Live on Chappelle's Show) from Peter Lohan on Vimeo.

original version

full album:

1   Be (Intro)  Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West 2:24
2   The Corner  Umar Bin Hassan / Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West  feat: The Last Poets  3:45
3   GO!  Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West  3:44
4   Faithful  Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West  3:33
5   Testify  Angelo Bond / General Johnson / Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West  2:36
6   Love Is...   Anna Gordy Gaye / Marvin Gaye / James Nyx, Jr. / Lonnie Lynn / Elgie Stover   4:10
7   Chi-City   Eddie Cornelius / Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West   3:27
8   The Food   Sam Cooke / Lonnie Lynn / Eugene Record / Kanye West   3:36
9   Real People   Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West  2:48
10  They Say  Thom Bell / John Legend / Lonnie Lynn / Kanye West    feat: John Legend and Kanye West  3:57
11  It's Your World, Pts. 1-2  Lonnie Lynn / Karriem Riggins  feat: Kids  8:33

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