Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Common: Finding Forever [Geffen, 2007]
Beat scholars call this producer Kanye West's J. Dilla tribute, but us hip-hop GED's wonder when the late legend ever put his hand to R&B so smart and smooth. R&B rather than hip-hop is how it signifies. From "Windmills of Your Mind" to "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," the samples subtler and more surprising than last time, and let me also mention the Ethiopian jazz and the Animals' Nina Simone cover in between. In fact, the best music here is so deep it's more powerful than the rhymes. These are strongest at their most forgiving--"The People," "Misunderstood," "U, Black Maybe"--and most R&B in their articulations of what a dog he still is. Which are we to believe, the romantic "I Want You" or the postromantic "Break My Heart"--or the carnal D'Angelo collab "So Far to Go"? A-