May 2005 XXL
Music is supposed to mirror life. With 11 tracks that focus on feeling not filler, the Chicago champ formerly known as Common Sense has birthed ‘05’s top LP with the impeccable Be. The album’s first single, the impenetrable inner-city anthem “The Corner,” sets up the initial statement for the man born Lonnie Rashid Lynn: He’s neither that rapper on Resurrection not the one on Electric Circus-he’s evolved into a synthesis of the two. On Be, Common plays poet and documentarian, showing us the triumphs and tragedies that occur in Ghetto, USA. And with Be’s co-pilot, Kanye West, supplying the lion’s share of the score (nine of eleven tracks) by stepping up even his production game with layers of bluesy yet granite-hard compositions, joints like the jazz-fueled “Real People” reflect Common’s penchant for “showin n*gga’s lives like UPN.” In fact, the CD’s cohesive sound can be attributed to the synergy between Common and Kanye.
Common’s wordsmith wizardry soars beyond stylistics: It excels at photographing real life. On “It’s Your World,” Comm recounts his own coming of age and the story of an aspiring songstress turned prostitute. Over soul-stirring strings and a marching drum track courtesy of J-Dilla (the producer behind the LP’s remaining two tracks), Common recalls, “I remember in high school she had a passion to sing/Now she see herself in a casket in dreams.”
While label support and the times heavily influence whether great music can be crowned classic, if nothing else Common has created a flawless album. By giving us himself completely and speaking to and for us as complete people, he’s birthed the total package.