Common - Electric Circus
Anyone who believes the recent hype about the hip-hop genre being in trouble should take a long, hard listen to the fifth album from Common. The Chicago rapper has always been seen as one of the smarter rappers on the block, of course, but even his most devoted followers may be surprised by just how far he's surpassed himself here. The sleeve, featuring 85 heroes, associates and collaborators from Prince to Richard Pryor makes it look like an American Sgt Pepper - and the comparison is not as ridiculous as it might sound. Electric Circus is a thrillingly eclectic melting pot of fist-clenching anthems and psychedelic soul, raised to a new level by Common's extraordinary range of cultural references. As the man himself says on 'I Got A Right Ta', "hip-hop is changing - y'all want me to stay the same?" No is the only sensible answer - this is a stunning, groundbreaking album that proves what the genre is capable of in the hands of a real professional. Rivals may consider the ante officially upped.
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