7 / 10
The sub-genre of hip-hop that we might call Hip-Hop For People Who Actually Don’t Like Hip-Hop is a puzzling one – why would anyone listen to Example or Gym Class Heroes, when you can have Apathy and Celph Titled? But Common is an exception, a man whose experimentalism and lyrical abstraction does not mask any MC shortcomings. He’s still at his best when he’s making hardcore hip-hop head-bumpers like the Gang Starr-esque ‘The Game’, and the Wu-Tang-style street symphony ‘Play Your Cards Right’. He has never been able resist straying once or twice, but thankfully the words ‘feat. Lily Allen’ next to ‘Drivin’ Me Wild’, which is drippier than an Ibizan ice lolly, means you can pre-programme your CD to skip it. The rest of it though, is soulful and intelligent where ‘intelligent’ is not exclusive to ‘good beats and rhymes.’ Which is what it’s all about.
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