While Common’s Finding Forever may not have attracted the same critical acclaim showered upon his prior release, Be, it was not for lack of effort. In fact, Finding Forever provided a substantial amount of memorable moments. As Common “expanded” his technical repertoire, we were also introduced to a healthy array of new musical flavors, as well. Often placed atop the grit of No I.D. or the soulful sounds of Jay Dee, Common continued his journey with producer Kanye West, but with a newfound twist. The resulting product was a diversified array of upbeat melodies (“Drivin’ Me Wild”) and uplifting rhythms (“Forever Begins”).

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He did not completely disregard his old form, but we most certainly heard Common at his most versatile. While some found his flow particularly remedial on “Break My Heart,” I was more so taken with the underlying music, itself. Even at his most sophomoric Common still seems to be elevated above the competition and this particular Kanye-produced beat seemed to highlight that.

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It’s a classic soul sampling from West’s past. No heavy 808s. No triumphant strings. Here we had ‘Ye doing ‘Ye. And just as I had in high school, first listening to The College Dropout, I immediately fell in love with the sampled source. Once again, hip-hop had taught me another lesson.

George Duke’s 1974 record “Someday” is by no means an attention grabber, at least not forcefully. The allure of this particular composition is the song’s R&B sensibilities. The long-time jazz man had casually transitioned into something even smoother in approach, providing the perfect backdrop to Common’s newly learned delivery. Duke’s vocal performance does not overwhelm, but has this certain charm that will find you singing along with that infectious chorus. Many did not approve of Duke’s musical departure, but like Common’s shift, there were, without a doubt, some truly special moments. For both artists, this was it.

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While you may not be completely sold on Finding Forever or George Duke’s foray into R&B, this is definitely worth a listen.

Written By: Paul Pennington

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