There are so many things to like about this album, yet so many things to hate. Common’s Finding Forever on its surface is an amazing work of hip-hop. Songs like “Forever Begins,” “Misunderstood,” “Black Maybe,” the questionable “Drivin’ Me Wild,” and even bonus track of “Play Your Cards Right” (from the Smokin’ Aces soundtrack) are probably some of the best hip-hop produced this whole year.
But somehow, this album feels like its missing something, and even after the 10th listen I coudln’t? figure out what it was. I even went back and listened to Be (which I consider Common’s second best album next to Like Water for Chocolate) and still couldn’t figure out why why I’m not enjoying Finding Forever as a whole. But after a while, I figure out what it was: Commons weak flow and his over-reliance on wack pop-culture references (“Its kind of like the breakup of Jen and Vince Vaughn”? Come on.). The first few seconds of the Dilla produced track “So Far to Go,” were ruined by the first bar of Commons rap. It’s sad but true. Common has ever element of his career going for him right now, but lyrically he’s off his game and it makes the album unbearable at times.
As for the album itself, the production work is downright amazing, even though Kanye West (who helmed most of the album) tried to channel his inner Dilla too much. Having that said though, I’m also glad that sample-based production is alive and well on a major label release. With Finding Forever giving Common getting a #1 album, this could bode well for hip-hop in the future.