(Geffen; 2005) On Be, Common has returned from the outer spacey-ness of Electric Circus to the basics – beats and rhymes – pulling off a near perfect execution of both. As hip hop’s unofficial poet laureate, Common passionately and skillfully muses over critical subjects in hip hop and beyond with abundant flow, insight, and charisma. His rhymes pair perfectly with Kanye West’s dusty soul-jazz grooves (including some of his best produced songs), making Be as fresh and vibrant and earthy as an inner-city garden. A trim 11 songs totaling 44 minutes, it is densely rich and wholesome.

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