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Finding Forever

common-be.jpgThey say that hindsight is 20/20; for hip-hop, truer words were never said. With subpar music flooding the airwaves, listeners searching for once-present superiority are prematurely christening undeniably great rap albums with the ever-dangerous “classic” tag. Audacious, yes, but misguided, considering said long-players have had shorter shelf lives than Crystal Pepsi.

Perhaps the trend starter, and most guilty, was Common’s Be. A much needed upgrade from 2002’s head-scratchingly progressive Electric Circus, Be revealed his best chemistry partner, Kanye West, since the late J Dilla. A lyrical clinic throughout, the disc’s overly subdued production gains sleepiness upon further spins. Save for “The Corner” and “Chi City,” the album lacks true bite. Oddly enough, Com and ’Ye may feel the same. Finding Forever, the Chicago wordsmith’s seventh disc, bumps like Be 2.0, capturing his ’05 gem’s essence while injecting some necessary audible steroids.

The enhanced performance surfaces instantly with “Start the Show,” a chopped harp/organ blend that compliments Lonnie Lynn’s ego thrashing (“Twelve monkeys onstage, it’s hard to tell who’s the gorilla/You should have stayed as a drug dealer”). Even brawnier, “The Game,” a West-helmed boom-bap revival, bangs with relentless percussion and precise DJ Premier–turned scratches. Reinvigorated by the throwback simplicity, Common catches the holy verbal ghost and spits gospel: “I don’t kiss the ass of the masses, I’m the Black molasses/Thick, and I lasted past these rap bastards.”

Of course, Common without cultural uplift wouldn’t make much sense. Here, however, his expected brilliance is backed by tougher Kanye-tracked soul. Co-produced by West’s cousin, Devo Springsteen, the brooding “Misunderstood” poignantly details the pains of hustlers gone bad. Somberness shifts to hypnosis on the Lily Allen–assisted “Driving Me Wild,” with the college dropout’s sweeping drummer-boy bass conjuring unhealthy self-obsession parables (“They say ’Ye is, but dude was bigheaded/Rockin’ fur in the summer just so somebody would pet it”).

Never less than honest, Common has always brought his love movements to the fore. While still believable, the overall execution of his balladry here unfortunately falls short. Past softies, like 2000’s “The Light,” preserved his prose; sadly, the same can’t be said for “I Want You,” a will.i.am-tracked conga bounce hindered by lazy lyrics (“I take a deep breath when the times is hard/When I reminisce over you, my God”). Equally questionable is the inclusion of the sublime yet previously released “So Far to Go,” off Dilla’s posthumous disc The Shining. New verses aside, its familiarity lingers.

When an album’s missteps still convey its overall passion, though, admiration remains. Does Finding Forever improve on the questionably classic Be? In some ways, yes. Kanye experiments more (hear his mimicking of Dilla’s off-kilter sample chopping on “Break My Heart”), while Common continually pushes boundaries by simply spitting genuinely. Truthfully, though, comparisons aren’t necessary. Once again, Common makes timeless hip-hop seem easy. —MATT BARONE
Photo: Gregory Scaffidi

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  • fixda

    Nice!Can’t wait to hear that record…’Ye and common bring real hiphop back!Timeless no doubt

  • havoc

    Common bout to drop. Finding Forever is gonna be hot.

  • Dan

    I might actually get the real copy.

  • Rob (from around the way)

    I really hope it’s as good as people are making it out to be. Cuaz I really loved how “BE” came out.

  • TUNED1+1IT

    Common is dope every time he drops yo. True music fans would agree.

  • Pancho

    this will be an awesome record….guaranteed!

  • Yun

    cant wait for this, whats the release date?

  • Jesus

    I bump this when I’m tryin to chill and relax after a long day of hard work against Lucifer…..Of course, I’ve heard every song made and every song thats going to be made…..ha ha…those are the breaks when you fucks wit God….bitches…

  • Jesus

    I like to bump this after a long day and when I try to relax after my epic battles wit Lucifer…Of course, I’ve heard every song that’s been made and every song that’s going to be made…Those are the breaks when you fucks wit God….”Curtis” is goin 5 times platinum bitces…Remember when you heard it first….The Bible…Genosis Verse 95 “And through thy land the heartfelt shepard expressed his sorrow, submerging in beef wit 50 Cent and ending my career wit the diss “Jesus Never Walks” (Jesus Talks the Talk, but never Walks the Walk)…The music video does some damage to me…..but uhhh…..This line destroyed my career….”Jesus talkin shit, that nigga already know// Thats crazy like lettin R. Kelly Makin it Rain again on these hoes//……You get it…Pissin’ on girls? Make it Remix?…..Yes, know you got it….Curtis….September 4th

  • Mike


  • Mike


  • Three4

    It´s coming out on the 31st of July…

  • futureblacklawyer

    Common album bout to be on point for sure. Im definetly buying this. Did anyone see him freestyle on 106 and park he killed it, u can tell it was the top of his head.

  • Ali

    cant wait….Be was a masterpiece

  • vincent

    Hey XXL, this is just another reminder that hip hop’s true legends arent the ones on the front covers anymore, yet still banging in every hip hop heads…

    If the whole game s about being true, well be true to this review, and stop putting TI, Fiddy and co on top of your list, cause these guys, just like McDonalds, have only mastered the art of selling shit sandwiches to the masses.

    Common and get it

  • jacquez
  • Todd

    this shouldn’t even be up for any kind of debate. tru hip-hop heads unanomously agree this album is gonna be a classic. I don’t expect nuthin less from one of hip-hop’s greats.

  • Bigz Lury

    Common is real hip hop fuck what anyone else says. he takes his raps from the heart…. and provides niggas with a message that can help them with a day in their life. he is a true hip hop mogul if you ask me why well for one he respects our culture. No other rapper does besides talib kweli and mos def. if a bitch or a ho is down the street you think he would walk by and down grade them in a rap callin women bitches and ho’s. But yet he doesnt the way he see’s it just because they are there doesn’t me you have to fuck with them any worse then life is fucking them over itself. Common real nigga 4 all his time…..1 luv cuzz.


    http://www.hustlemanrecords.com CLICK ON VIDEO NEXT CLICK ON HIPHOP POEM and once u see me spittin email me @ kidd_johnson@yahoo.com

  • Cuban Link

    Im really hyped about this one, I duno why but I have a feeling its gonna be one of his best ever.

  • Young Sleep

    Yes, XL i love it, has classic potential. Get Ready for Kanye’s “Graduation” and Lupe’s “The Cool” thats real hip hop

  • doctor69

    got mines on reserve fuck trill and snap music

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Miss Stone

    Shit if you can’t recognize the greatness of someone like Common. U need to break up with hip-hop cause you ain’t in love wit it

  • bizzle

    REAL HIP HOP WE HERE!! i found the new premo…go buy this shit when it drops…get your lyrics up you wack modern day rappers..common can show you the way

  • http://mwicker.blogspot.com/ a2poet

    Now that was a good review– damn, this album sounds like that fire!

  • http://xxl nystandup

    yo finally we get hear what rap is about when rappers are saying something! not this watered down south shit thanks common you givin a ny kid a reason to listen cause without you, talib, mos,kayne,and a few others i would jus listen to salsa,merenge,reggeton please ny stand up LOX where you at?

  • IT IS I

    Common been on point since he had “Sense” at the end of his name(think:Soul by the Pound). He’s always been innovative everytime he drops. I can’t wait til this joint to come out. Oh yeah, why couldn’t he get the 10 Anniversary cover?

  • http://Juiced.smartvideochannel.com J.P.


  • grapes

    FUCK OUTTA HERE JIBBS AND HUEY…they’re coming… COMMON N KANYE!! They are pretty timeless. Maybe even classic, considering they are some of the few shining stars in this time where Nas is correct and real hip-hop is dead…

  • rip roundn rock

    the album has leaked, and the review is pretty much on point. Its very deep, soulful and mature… i remember reading a review on the fader (ithink), that kanye was inspired by a conversation with steven spielberg about how he made the film AI the way he thought the late Stanley Kubrick would have done it, so kanyeezee produced this album how he envisioned dilla would have done it!

  • W.K.

    howcome it seems like most true mc’s these days come from the chi?

  • kalvinLONDON

    “I Want You,” a will.i.am-tracked conga bounce hindered by lazy lyrics (“I take a deep breath when the times is hard/When I reminisce over you, my God”).

    Cmon know, crticising commons lyrics and please why provide an explanation why that is so bad PLEASE

    XXL REALLY need to get there ratings straight (tony yayo, rick ross, paul wall etc) and who they put on there magazines pharoahe gets no cover?? Putting weezy on XXL 10th anniversary(who is only good due to his counterparts i.e yung joc n mims etc, though he is decent)and no rapping ass baby do. Anyways i agree that the will i am track was the weakest track on the album.

  • ING

    Honestly “Be” was so authentic. “Finding Forever” is gonna be fire. His music is a nice relief from the gun poppin ish we listen to. Glad he is finally getting his due. I will download many albums, his I will not. I am buying this joint, off tops!!

  • TravisB

    I have this album nice and early. Why do the albums that deserve XXL and classic status never get them, and ones that are subpar at best up with an album liek this or BE?? this magazine is a joke.

  • http://www.myspace.com/thesoulpacificmusic L-Ah

    “I take a deep breath when the times is hard/When I reminisce over you, my God”

    This is an example of lazy lyrics? Is it lazy because its not a several syllable rhyme? This is not battle rap. The man is describing an actual event. That’s what he does. Common is one of the few select that actually says something in his songs. Im talkin substance not 2 Steppin, Walkin Out, Leanin back or like a cholo or rockin with it or whatever other bubble gum rap is floodin the air waves. Take any line from any of those songs and paste your lazy lyrics line after one of those.
    Common’s music is inspiring. Hip hop is not dead as long as this man is still in the game. But it is hangin by a thread. Support good music and buy this album! Maybe if we support true artistic value and originality, we’ll get more of it.

  • Bob

    Wow, you are quite negative on Common considering the album is a candidate for top album of all-time. Now don’t get flustered, and don’t try to scratch your ears…Yes, I said it: Common’s “Finding Forever” is an early rival to anything on those “Classic” lists. From Illmatic to Ready to Die, to He’s the DJ to GOAT…any of these, along now with Finding Forever could possibly be number one of real hip-hop’s top albums of all time.

    This album is almost purely perfect. So close to perfection that I can’t really discern why it wouldn’t be called a perfect work other than my own concern others would say I’m jumping the gun. I’ve been listening to this album and personally I don’t think Be comes even close to what Finding Forever delivers. Moreover, Finding Forever seems to tap into the true reason for classic albums: Limited list of producers and a real collaborative effort on the album.

    Again, Finding Forever may just be the best hip hop album of all time.

  • BigNova420

    This album is Outstanding Yall……!!! Great follow-up to BE…..!!!!!!!

  • impeccable1ne

    i think this album shoulda got xxl

  • http://xxlmag.com Terell

    common needs to hurry up and come put with this album cause alot of the other artists comeing out now suck

  • kev

    july 31 get you, your friend and a hater a copy. common is the truth

  • derfla the hus’la

    cant wait

  • http://XXlMag Yung 415

    A his shit is going to slap so hard. cant wait till it comes out.

  • Andez

    Chi run shit..No one better then Common, Chicago are blessed with the best rapper of the moment..Buy his album!! Real Hip Hop deserves that much. Fuck MTV

  • http://www.myspace.com/spearmaster Ron White

    Man, I’m from the South and hate the rap down here. I downloaded the album before it came out and I bump this everyday. I’m definitely buying this. Hit me up on my MySpace so we can talk about good, intelligent hip hop that motivates black men.

  • N.E.S

    Common does it right everytime, this new release is downright lyrically inspirational and classic. common know’s how to put it down and shines everytime. Keep doin it right playa…

  • http://none Burningspear

    In one word…. Classic. Fuck the haters. common came with two classics in a row BE and Finding Forever are ineed refreshing in this bullshit rap game nowadays. Whoever reviewed this album calling it “lazy” and whatever other bullshit terms he used don’t know real hip hop. Probably he’s used to walking it out and Wiping himself down that he’s doesn’t appreciate real hip hop. Fuck the XL rating this album is OBESE.

  • abose

    I purchased the album and I must say that I really like it. It is a breathe of fresh air. If only the masses would catch on and stop play that damn “A Bay-Bay” song. Keep it pushin’ Common!

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Big L

    Finding Forever is questionably one of the best hip hop albums in a long time.As soon as I slipped it in my boom box, I didn’t touch the changer.Common’s rhymes are poetry and his words have substance that lasts for the ages.This is a true classic in REAL Hip-Hop form!!!

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    This album is so WACK!!!!!!!!OMG

    • Legacy745

      u r the dumbest cat ever this is one of the illest albums on the market get yo fuckin weight up fufi! common is a tru MC u dumb as nigga! WEST PENN

  • http://www.myspace.com/spearmaster Ron White

    To the guy above me, your name describes your taste in music. Garbage. Go listen to you sorry ass Lil’ Wayne’s and Boosie’s and let intelligent black men listen to music that’s real.

  • http://XXLmag.com star

    Common is a genius. He is so underrated in today’s wack climate of hip hop. Personally this (along with most of his stuff) should have gotten a XXL. What is with these low numbers given in the critiques (i.e. T.I’s too). Who writes these things….maybe “pop lock and drop” is more up their alley, but if thats the case get some real hip hop heads to write these reviews!!! give them some real justice!

  • DC’s Finest

    This album is like dat. I luv it jus like Be. Support Common!

  • Greg Scaffidi missed an extra X

    Why this album wasn’t rated XXL is beyond me…





  • ELnes

    CHI-city stand up!!Got much love 4 east @ west coast hip hop but the truest originality comes from the CHI from lupe 2 common 2 kanye 2 even kidz in the hall everyone got they turn know its ours to hold down,peoples feel our struggle cuz we dont bullshit or sell dem wolf tickets we keep itas thoro and hood as it could be!!add it to another classic CHI-tOwn record and as much as yall finger snappin,chain spinnin,backward talkin mogz hate to admit yall know wutz real hip hop and wut aint!!!

  • S Andyson

    I got this album two weeks before it dropped and ran and copped it the day it dropped. this CD gets me to work every day. there is a song for every mood i’m in. Common = Grown Man Hip Hop.
    5 Stars/mics/XXL or what ever you wanna use. When you can bump an album for a month and still love it, C-L-A-S-S-I-C!!!!!!

  • tony

    did you even listen to the record? cant even quote the man right ….XXL, step thy shit up !

  • David

    I’ve got the album, It’s littered with lyrical gold for the mind and and top notch production to get the soul moving! With all the bullshit you guys rate as “XL” (whatever kind of fucking rating system that is?) You guys should of given this guy his props with your highest rating! It’s a classic!!!

  • jsmooth

    He’s been always real since day one ! I would support becuz He ain’t fake as rapper these dayz.

  • http://myspace.com/manhattanisrotten Manhattan

    This is definitely XXXXXXXXL…. Whoever thinks otherwise is the reason why Hip Hop is dead… Com is one of the few Emcees left that love the game… He goes against the norm and he’s the reason why heads like myself never loose the faith when it comes to Hip Hop’s longevity…
    He is one of the greatest.

  • TheRefriedMexican

    The album was aight. nothing special

  • J King

    This album would be a classic in another time. But because of the new era with computers and downloading as well as the amount of diversity in rap it’s been unappreciated. CD is too hot (cept fo that D’Angelo song don’t care for it much). The way Common arranges his songs…it’s toooo nice. That intro running right into the show. Like I heard the show nuff times since I downloaded basically the entire album before it came out. But damn nothing compares to listening and taking in that CD. If you don’t think this is classic you don’t have any Common Sense.

  • http://? Ironfist

    Common is a true mc’c mc.. a lyricist in the days of very subordinate and idle rap, this guy always makes me sit up and listen he is dope, and with ye on the boards forget about it.. i just hope he doesnt make us wait for more great music hopfully he wil drop again soon id like to hear him collab with like minded cats like rhymefest, mos, kweli, lupe, pharoah etc and do somework. oh and if you didnt know, doubters take note, skills wise, common is in top 10 best right now rappers wise easy. Ye might just go on to join DRE oneday as the greatest hiphop producers ever too

  • Jergins

    Never less than honest, Common has always brought his love movements to the fore. While still believable, the overall execution of his balladry here unfortunately falls short. Past softies, like 2000’s “The Light,” preserved his prose; sadly, the same can’t be said for “I Want You,” a will.i.am-tracked conga bounce hindered by lazy lyrics (“I take a deep breath when the times is hard/When I reminisce over you, my God”)

    Disagree! if your a fan of classic hip hop, you would know that line is a Pete Rock and C.L. smooth reference…genius

  • Freudian Nightmare

    Why all the hating? Chi is da best, Dirty South is best, gangsta is best, hip pop is best blah blah blah Great beats/rhymes/albums come from all these lil clicks. These are the new albums I think are amazing in their own rights:

    Common-Finding Forever
    Young Buck-Buck The World
    Chamillionaire-Ultimate Victory
    Kayne West-Graduation
    50 cent-Curtis

    and that is my preference order of the albums as well. All different, all great 4 different reasons.

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    Thank you XXL for giving COMMON a great review.
    Common is an amazing lyricist.
    Everybody should get BE and FINDING FOREVER from COMMON.

  • CAM

    It should read like this at this point

    Kanye experiments more (hear his BITING of Dilla’s off-kilter sample chopping on “Break My Heart”)