CD Review of Finding Forever by Common

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Finding Forever
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Geffen
Released: 2007
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In just two short years, Common, a.k.a. Lonnie Rashied Lynn, has managed to deliver his follow-up to the successful Kanye West-produced Be. And, since the last album was such a big hit, Finding Forever bears the stamp of Kanye West yet again for that extra cha-ching. And indeed, as of this writing, Finding Forever is sitting in the top spot on the weekly Billboard 200 album chart. Mission accomplished!

Where Kanye does not exert his production muscle, however, a couple of other notables lend Common some tracks. The also-hot of the “My Humps” collective Black Eyed Peas actually turns in an affecting, classy track over which Common meditates on an old lover. The other most notable production comes from the grave. J Dilla, who succumbed to lupus last year, contributed “So Far to Go,” which, while not one of the more memorable tracks on the disc, does give precious air time to yet another special guest, the unfortunately addiction-afflicted D’Angelo. It’s no Voodoo, but for now it will do.

At its best, Finding Forever is Common’s show, whether he’s namechecking Barack Obama and the title character of that awesome Pixar kids flick Finding Nemo while waxing philosophical (“sometimes we find peace in beats and breaks”) on “The People,” or paying tribute to Dilla on the closing track, “Forever Begins.” Actually, Common does a lot more than that on “Forever Begins.” He gets awfully deep and contemplative, speaking (figuratively) to our collective hopes and fears, and ending with a (literally) spoken section over a jazzy coda, addressing such depressing topics as “tsunamis, hurricanes, following the trails of the African slave ships, war, war, and more war,” and on and on… One could walk away from this disc feeling like something really important has been said, which is the mark of a truly successful application of an artist’s self-importance. You go, Common!

And while we’re on the subject of “Forever Begins,” there are plenty of classic ‘70s grooves sampled throughout this album (Rotary Connection’s “Love Has Fallen on Me” is the basis for the Lily Allen feature “Drivin’ Me Wild,” The Isley Brothers’ “Don’t Say Goodnight” is used on “So Far to God,” etc.) and most seem to be properly credited. Yet, the most prominent sample on “Forever Begins” goes curiously uncredited in the liner notes. Anyone familiar with Syreeta’s Stevie Wonder-produced cover of the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” will find its application in the first half of “Forever Begins” impossible to ignore. Shh, don’t tell Michael Jackson!

~Michael Fortes