Album review

Common : Electric Circus
MCA / Island

Common : Electric CircusIn a world of rappers that lever in the best bits of pop suss to make their work more immediate - Busta Rhymes, Eminem please stand up - Electric Circus is a pleasant anomoly. As usual, Common's playing on the edges of of hip-hop, blurring the boundaries as he goes. Electric Circus isn't an easy listen - it ain't boisterous and it ain't funny - but stick with it and it can be hugely rewarding.

A sparse disco-soul hybrid underpins the lazy boy-girl vocals of Aquarius, giving the track a blissed-out 70s feel. It ain't a potential dancefloor filler, but as with most of the songs here, it's a definite grower.
    I'm on more familiar ground with P.O.D.'s Sonny Sandoval, who's voice helps propel Electric Wire Hustler Flower as Electric Circus' most energetic outing. There may be deep meaning in the lyrics of this one, but I didn't find it. Words that sounds good together if you ask me . . . still, nothing wrong with that.
    Come Close is written and helmed by uber-producers The Neptunes, and boy does it show. Mary J Blige is on-board for co-vocalist duties here, and it's just the kind of slick R&B you'd expect. I think it's fair to say that no one can touch The Neptunes with this kind of material. They're back again again on I Got A Right Ta, which wouldn't have sounded out of place on the N.E.R.D. album.
    The deep disconnected vocals on I Am Music and the Hendrix homage Jimi Was A Rock Star disturb in exactly the same way the Aphex Twin's Windowlicker did, before The Light snaps us back to normality - a track that would surely make a good single release.

So yes. Quality music. But the counterculture star rating has been up and down for this one in the few weeks I've lived with it. Go out and get it, but only if you're willing to invest the time it demands.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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