The Review: YEEZUS by Kanye West


Kanye West seems to think his new album is his best yet. Why else would he refuse to revisit the “old Kanye” on every subsequent album? Why else would he dismiss his last album, the universally acclaimed masterpiece that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a “backhanded apology”? While most rappers seem satisfied in lauding their previous efforts, Ye doesn’t seem satisfied. He has gone through several phases in his career that he only makes albums that satisfy the mind-state he is currently in before he shifts his mood. So instead of making another avant-garde musical buffet, Kanye opts for the raw, sonically challenging, and ultra-aggressive soundscape of house and EDM.

His frustration with the contemporary musical climate is clear when he proclaims, “Yeezy season approaching, fuck whatever y’all been hearing”. The hard as fuck synths of “On Sight” sound more in-your-face than anything he ever did before. To further piss you off, he proclaims himself a God, who can’t wait any longer for his “damn croissants”. Yes, the egomania is bigger than before and the sound is the most left-field of left field for Kanye West, as cliched as it might sound. But really? How must you describe a song about pregnant ex-girlfriends sitting courtside at the game that samples a Nina Simone rendition of “Strange Fruit” while turning into a trap song every minute or so? Such self-fulfilling creativity is what makes Kanye a provocative and brilliant artist. Because he has the balls to do that kind of sh*t (and because he is the only one who can make such a concept work).

….And yet it is not the classic that the critics are raving it as (*cough*PitchforkRollingStoneXXLAVClubEntertainmentWeeklyAndOtherSitesThatDickRideYeezy*cough*)

For all the weird moments of brilliance, Kanye still has this proclivity to say incredibly inane bars from time to time. Which is really frustrating because this is a complaint that is consistent with every fucking album that he ever made. For every “I put my fist in her like a Civil Rights sign”, there’s the lazy “Asian pussy, all I needed was sweet and sour sauce”. He still elongates words as if he had nothing else to say (“I got her back in, and put my dick in my MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUTH!!!!”). And then, there’s “I wanna fuck you hard on the sink”.

Really, Kanye?

“I wanna fuck you hard on the sink”?

That’s the best you could come up with?

Do you actually say this to your girlfriends?

Yeezus is far from the classic that critics are raving about. But it’s also not the trash that some listeners claim it is. It’s a challenging listen, without a doubt. I got bored midway through my first listen. Upon the second listen, however, I actually appreciated it more. The heavy usage of EDM and Auto tune is likely to turn off many casual hip hop fans. But in alienating many core bases, it’s a bold work that warrants a few open-minded listens and one that also stays true to its host’s creed of reinvention and individuality.

Rating: 7.25/10

Highlights: “On Site”, “Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”, “Blood on the Leaves”, “Bound 2”

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Old School Review: 2001 by Dr. Dre

Recently, I was perusing through my iTunes playlist, looking for something to listen to. I stumbled upon my playlist for 2001 titled “The Chronic 2001” (this was the original name of the album until Suge, looking for quick cash and payback, released a Death Row compilation with the same name). I hadn’t listened to any of the songs in years and I figured, since my tastes have changed through the years, I’d listen through the entire album and make the final call.

Back in the late 90s, with the death of 2Pac, West Coast hip hop had fallen out of favor with the mainstream as the flashy-suit, synth-heavy era of Puffy set in stone. Subsequently, with the rise of Southern hip hop and re-emergence of East Coast hardcore rap, the once mighty West Coast had been the odd man out. All eyes were on Dre as he prepared his comeback initially entitled The Chronic 2001 as an indication of the new era for West Coast gangsta rap and G-Funk. It had been six years since the famed producer released his groundbreaking solo album, The Chronic, and many wondered whether Dre could match the high standards of the predecessor with his new album. Long story short: he did. The album received “classic” status from a bunch of reviewers like XXL and The Source and sold millions and millions of records while establishing Eminem as the superstar of the genre for years to come.

Years later, 2001 (as the album is now known as) is still held in critical favor and seen as another landmark moment for gangsta rap. Let’s see whether this is so:

Note: For all intents and purposes, most of the skits will not be reviewed. Simply because they are skits and most rappers don’t know how to use them (I’m looking at you, Ghostface).

1. Lolo (Intro)

2. The Watcher

I didn’t really think much of this song when I listened to it years ago. I don’t know why but this song is one of Dre’s most underrated gems. The bassline is funky but not overdramatic. It fits the atmosphere very well and sets the tone nicely. Dre made a sequel to this song for Jay-Z’s album, The Blueprint 2 but I felt like that track was overblown, production-wise. The simplicity of the original is more effective in my opinion.

3. F**k You (feat. Devin the Dude and Snoop Dogg)

So much for “Been There, Done That”. The misogyny of this track is at least somewhat entertaining and this beat comes correct. And Calvin Cordozar in his pre-Rastafarian glory, spits his piece nicely.

4. Still D.R.E. (feat. Snoop Dogg)

This is the second of Snoop’s four appearances on this album. I have loved this song before and I still love it now.

5. Big Ego’s (feat. Hittman)

Hittman was supposed to be Aftermath’s next star after Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Of course, that never happened for good reason. He just isn’t that damn interesting. As far as this song goes, it gets an ehhh out of 6.

6. Xxplosive (feat. Hittman, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Six-Two)

Ah, and here we have Kanye West’s favorite drum loop. The beat still knocks and Nate Dogg (RIP) sounds beautiful over it. Kurupt, however, sounds like his whole mentality while doing the song was to put as many cuss words as he could into all his bars just to make it sound hardcore. That’s a paddlin, G.

7. What’s the Difference (feat. Xzibit and Eminem)

The beginning of Dre and Em’s obsession with chamber music that would ultimately culminate into “The Real Slim Shady” a year later. Dre discusses his past beef with Eazy E and his reconciliation with the man before he died. Before his Pimp My Ride days, this was X to the Z on the cusp of his prime and he turns in a solid verse. Em’s verse doesn’t sound as good as it once did for me years ago. Then again, I was going through an “Eminem is the best rapper ever” phase back then, so I guess it makes sense.

8. Bar One

9. Light Speed (feat. Hittman)

The first truly forgettable track of the album is here. And boy, does that skip button look pretty.

10. Forgot About Dre (feat. Eminem)

This track used to be in my rotation constantly until I remembered all the lyrics and stopped listening to it. Surprisingly, I still like this track and Em’s verse. Matter of fact, this might be a Top 10 Eminem verse.

11. The Next Episode (feat. Snoop Dogg)

Short but sweet. Though it could have been longer.

12. Let’s Get High (feat. Hittman, Ms. Roq, and Kurupt)

The beat is pretty catchy but the verses are pretty forgettable. NEXT.

13. B*tch N*ggaz (feat. Snoop Dogg, Six-Two, and Hittman)

The beat does get pretty tiring after a while. But maybe the sad thing about this song is that this is the last we’ll ever hear of Snoop on this album. Perhaps the even more tragic part is that he is now known as Snoop Lion.

14. The Car Bomb

15. Murder Ink (feat. Hittman and Ms. Roq)

You know, if Dre held on to this track for another few more years, 50 Cent would have picked it up and sounded perfect over the beat. Cause the dudes on this track don’t.

16. Ed-Ucation

17. Some L.A. N*ggaz (feat. Hittman, MC Ren, Knoc-Turn’al, DeFari, Xzibit, Time Bomb, King T, and Kokane)

Dre must have invited every f*cking dude in Los Angeles that claims to be a rapper for this weakass track. And Ren doesn’t even get a damn verse. F*ck this sh*t. Avoid it at all costs.

18. Pause 4 Porno

Okay, what the f*ck is with everyone putting a f*cking skit about nothing but f*cking? This is really just a waste of precious CD space.

19. Housewife (feat. (you guessed it) Hittman and Kurupt)

This beat is the sh*t, son. I love it. The chorus is catchy. I think I might revisit this one in the near future.

20. Ackrite (feat. Hittman)

I give this sh*t an ehhh out of 12. It’s basically a Hittman track and there is (once again) nothing special about it. Dre really tried his hardest to promote this dude…

21. Bang Bang (feat. Hittman and Knoc-Turn’al)

Okay… here’s my problem: how can you make an entire album about gangbanging and shooting people and then make a song about how you shoot too many people? How can you talk about mindless violence and then all of a sudden, condemn it in one song? The f*ck is this? Who the f*ck sequenced this sh*t? And who the f*ck came up with this godforsaken, annoying-ass chorus that only appeals to the twelve-year-old wiggas demographic? I can’t stand this sh*t, man. I’m sorry. I don’t understand how rappers get religious within the same f*cking album. It’s beyond corny to me.

22. The Message (feat. Mary J. Blige and Rell)

Alright… aside from the fact this is supposed to be a tribute to his dead brother and the fact that Dre doesn’t even WRITE or PRODUCE this track, I like it. Amidst all the bullsh*t I have heard on this album, this is a nice little heartfelt moment. It isn’t cheesy at all or too emotional. It’s kinda funny though when Dre says he “realizes he ain’t no gangsta” despite the fact this is still a gangsta rap album. Like I said, I don’t like it how rappers tend to get religious within their own album. But I’ll let it slide since this track actually sounds sincere.

IN CONCLUSION…

10 years ago, this album was proclaimed a classic. Ten years later, I am laughing my ass off at that proclamation.

This album is far from perfect and I hesitate to even call it good. 22 tracks means that filler is abound and the weak guest appearances aside from Snoop, Xzibit, and Em don’t help either. It’s easy to see why Hittman, who is featured on an astounding ten tracks here, didn’t become a superstar despite the heavy amount of promotion Dre gave him. The only rapper who actually may have benefited from his appearances on this album was Xzibit (Eminem was already famous thanks to “My Name Is” and The Slim Shady LP) but even he already had a buzz going for him. The one aspect that is nearly consistent is the production. It isn’t as densely layered as the earlier G-Funk from his Death Row days. But it’s a bold new style and a positive progression and for that, I applaud Dre. It’s not easy to move forward from a once successful sound but Dre has shown that he has all the qualities of a hitmaker, including the ability to adapt to the fickle musical climate.

However, the subpar lyricism from Dre and most of his cronies severely brings down the quality of the album. Dre may have done the same thing before but the difference is this: The Chronic introduced Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Tha Dogg Pound to the world. Those guys became West Coast legends. 2001 doesn’t even give us decent MCs. And our host? Like Ice Cube once said, “Ayo Dre, stick to producing.”

Rating: 5.5/10

Favorite Tracks: “The Watcher”, “Still D.R.E.”, “Forgot About Dre”, “Housewife”

The Review: LONG.LIVE.A$AP by A$AP Rocky

Being a critic is a difficult task. You can’t really judge one person’s album against someone else’s album. One may be more lyrical but the other just works better song-for-song. It all depends on which one you like more and then you make your decision.

For example, you cannot judge a Waka Flocka Flame album against a Nas album, and say, “Waka Flocka isn’t lyrical like Nas and therefore he sucks.” Waka is not a lyrical rapper so you can’t complain that “Round of Applause” doesn’t sound like Nas. If you review a trap music album, you have to look at it as a trap album. If you review a socio-conscious/gangsta rap album, you have to look at it as a socio-conscious/gangsta rap album.

That being said, A$AP Rocky does not want you to look at him wrong: “Don’t view me as no conscious cat, this ain’t no conscious rap/ F*ck the conscious crap, my Mac’ll push your conscious back.”

Rocky is, for many, a walking contradiction. He hails from New York but is more inspired by Southern hip hop. He is a gangsta rapper who mostly spits over woozy, indie-inspired beats. Hell, his name is Rakim but he sounds more like a mix of UGK and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. But the interesting part is that these contradictions serve as benefactors rather than crutches. In a world where originality is scarce, here is someone who, although is not wholly original, accepts his influences and creates a style that is pleasant throwback and at the same time, refreshingly new.

Many underground successes somehow come up short on their actual debut album (or what one can refer to as the “Big KRIT Syndrome”). Rappers spend most of their creativity trying to garner buzz that they end up giving away the best material for free. Rocky realizes this and he advances his sound rather than simply repeating it, thus retaining the feel of Live.Love.A$AP but also exploring different musical ideas. It may not mean the same thing as innovation but in an industry full of cliches and repetition, a different approach seems more than refreshing.

If there’s one problem about Rocky, it’s that his trash talk is more impressive than the actual claims (“Painting vivid pictures, call me Basquiat Picasso”) and more often than not, Rocky spits a few brilliant lines before slipping into near mediocrity for the next few. It doesn’t diminish the quality of the songs in particular but it doesn’t rebuke the claim that he could have done better. On “Phoenix”, he raps…

Bloody ink on my pen spelled suicide
Kurt Cobain even died cause you scrutinize
It’s a fine line between truth and lies
Jesus Christ never lied, still was crucified

before proceeding to end the rest of the bars with “n*gga”…

That’s why I never judge another n*gga
Life’s a b*tch, but that b*tch in love with other n*ggas
3 to a bed, sheets, no covers n*gga
Dirty kitchen, no supper in the cupboards n*gga
Sucker n*ggas, wassup my n*ggas
So my new attitude is like “F*ck the n*ggas!”

Again, it does sound sincere and meaningful but given that brilliant opener, one would expect a consistent follow-up.

A couple missteps aside (“F**kin Problems”, “Fashion Killa”), Long.Live.A$AP is a strong debut album by an artist whose potential is becoming more and more visible. Clearly, he has the ability to craft hits on his own terms and the adaptability to stay relevant. But as far as depth goes, Rocky still is better at talking ignorance over larger than life beats than he is at making consistently deep verses. But maybe that will come with age.

Rating: 8.5/10

Favorite Tracks: “Long.Live.A$AP”, “Goldie”, “PMW”, “Wild for the Night”, “Phoenix”, “Suddenly”, “Angels” (bonus track)

The Review: BASED ON A T.R.U. STORY by 2 Chainz

The trap star is a very polarizing figure. His fans and other mainstream music lovers will adore him. But the old hip hop heads who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s bark otherwise. Sometimes the barking is necessary, especially when rappers start believing their hype too much (Soulja Boy). But if a rapper with no particularly deep lyrics still likes to have fun and make other people like to have fun, why hate him? Waka Flocka couldn’t rap to save his own life but we love it when he gets dumb and loud. Similarly, 2 Chainz isn’t exactly the deep OutKast/Goodie Mob Southern type. He is more of the 2 Live Crew type who just likes to have fun.

And we have fun too (okay, “real” hip hop fans, you are excused). Why? Because it is big, dumb fun (“Car so big it could fit a stripper pole”). You won’t find any smart stuff but you will find plenty of punchlines to repeat. “I’m Different”: “Everything hot, skip lukewarm/ Tell shawty to bust it open, Uncle Luke on/ Got the present for the present and a gift wrapping/ I don’t feel good, but my trigger happy”. “In Town”: “Got the city on swole with my Louis bandana/ My car is sh*tting on n*ggas, I should ride with a Pamper”.

However, too often the man tries to overreach and step out of his familiar territory. It works once or twice in the beginning but after that, the efforts sound trite. And thus the album morphs from a potential 2 Chainz banger into another Def Jam F*ckin’ It Up joint. And the label strikes again by placing big name guests and hiring Mike Posner (of all people…) to sing some achingly annoying tunes (yes, “real” hip hop heads, now you can join in). Not only that but 2 Chainz seems to be taking himself too seriously. Maybe he might be able to out-rap other mainstream rappers but he can’t stand on his own two with Scarface no matter how good his punchlines are. Because even in the supposedly deep material, he doesn’t offer introspection; he offers punchlines.

2 Chainz is good at being 2 Chainz the big booty stripper-loving richass Atlanta native. But he might want to leave it at that. Right now, it seems like he wants to impress both sides, the fans and the critics. But sometimes it’s best to just stay in your own lane even if diversity is a healthy thing.

Rating: 6.75/10

Favorite Tracks: “Dope Peddler”, “Birthday Song”, “Stop Me Now”, “Ghetto Dreams”

The Review: BE by Common

If people hear something new, they call it a breath of fresh air. Usually the song will be of a new style or by an artist trying to experiment. For Common, however, his sixth album, Be, is a breath of fresh air because he is going backwards: ditching the experimental music for a traditional hip hop sound he hadn’t visited in years. It is a weird kind of regression/progression that brings the rapper back to his roots and still sounding relevant.

For this project, Common wisely hired Kanye West for his soulful beats that were popular with old school hip hop heads and mainstream listeners. And the man doesn’t disappoint here (in fact, he rarely disappoints). Everything feels lean, stripped down, and focused. No more heavy production to distract Common from rhyming at his best because now he had beats that gave him enough space. Common also made sure to make no bets and choose 9 of the best Kanye West beats to fit his style (the other two beats are J Dilla beats that are also worth listening to).

Throughout the album, Common is bent on reclaiming his legendary MC status after briefly losing it in his last album. His storytelling makes glorious returns in “The Corner” and “Testify”. “The Corner” poetically explains the woes of Chicago streets (“It’s hard to breath nights, days are thief like/ The beast roam the streets, the police is Greek-like”). The latter tells a tense tale of a husband accused of murder while his wife tries to testify his innocence.

Here, Common does not try to tread new ground, necessarily. Instead, he gives his individual spin on common topics. Street life is a cornerstone of hip hop but “The Corner” still sounds refreshing with Common’s unique vision. Andre 3000 may have been the first rapper to visualize God as a woman but Common takes it a few steps deeper (“Faithful”). And his classic braggadocio is plentiful here (“Chi City”).

Fans speculated that Be stood for Before Erykah (a ridiculous guess). From the intro, Common makes clear of what he intends to achieve with his album:

I want to be as free as the spirits of those who left
I’m talking Malcom, Coltrane, my man Yusef
Through death-grew conception
New breath and resurrection
For moms, new steps in her direction
In the right way
Told inside is where the fight lay
And everything a nigga do may not be what he might say
Chicago nights stay, stay on the mind
But I write many lives and lay on these lines
Wave the signs of the times
Many say the grind’s on the mind
Shorties blunted-eyed and everyone wanna rhyme
Bush pushing lies, killers immortalized
We got arms but won’t reach for the skies
Waiting for the Lord to rise
I look into my daughter’s eyes
And realize that I’m gonna learn through her
The Messiah, might even return through her
If I’m gonna do it, I gotta change the world through her
Furs and a Benz, gramps wanting ’em
Demons and old friends, pops they hauntin’ him
The chosen one from the land of the frozen sun
When drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones
Walk like warriors, we were never told to run
Explored the world to return to where my soul begun
Never looking back or too far in front of me
The present is a gift
and I just wanna be

Common understood that he strayed too far on Electric Circus, trying to be a rap version of Jimi Hendrix instead of the Chicago b-boy that everyone knows him as. And this time, he elects to be himself and that in itself is refreshing to hear.

Rating: 11/10

Favorite Tracks: “Be (Intro)”, “The Corner”, “Go!”, “Testify”, “Love Is…”, “They Say”

Old School Review: ELECTRIC CIRCUS by Common

If you are a fan of Common’s older work and/or a general hip hop fan, chances are you don’t like Electric Circus. It is a record that is without a doubt, Common’s most adventurous but also probably his most alienating. It is a more rock-influenced record and one that involves very left-field concepts. For example there is a song called “Electric Wire Hustle Flower” and God knows whatever the f*ck that is. Then there is a song where Common and Erykah sing a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. No, not sing-song. Actual singing. If you’re a Common lover who is curious about Common’s singing capabilities, just quietly assume that the sleepy man singing with Badu is not him.

Musically, it is close to being a masterpiece. While J Dilla brought funky, atmospheric beats to LWFC, ?uestlove brings multi-layered rock and soul instrumentation that feels majestic. And it is far from the typical hip hop fan’s taste (old or new). The Neptunes would start their working relationship with Common on this album, contributing the lead (and only) single, “Come Close” and “I Got A Right Ta”. But it is ?uestlove’s weird rock/soul production that reigns. Things go from  unusual to downright strange (“New Wave”). Even Pharrell and Chad get their country rock on in “I Got a Right Ta”.

The rhymes may be the biggest disappointment here. And Common rhymes lack the punch and cleverness that was present in ResurrectionOne Day, and LWFC. In fact, “Between Me, You, and Liberation” may be the only song that says something new. Common discusses his homophobia and his revelation after discovering that one of his longtime friends turned out to be gay. He also admits the prevalent misogyny in not just hip hop, but in his music as well.

But there are those sporadic moments where the old Common arises and shines for a moment:

I’m the only cat in hip hop that can go into a thrift shop
Connect, get up to the ghetto and get props
[…]
If you gonna get that glock don’t be scared to lick shot
Hip Hop is changin, y’all want me to stay the same?
Sorta like Barkley on how I see the game
I recognize game like a scout
Ayo, I’m bound to wreck your lady as I turn your lady out
I ain’t about that
Messing with no other man’s women
Because of jealousy then a man go under
Understand a man and his mental
Listening to Joan Mitchell
With the fan and the window
Can it be so simple then?
I rock Rockports, you rock Timberlands
I want a Rover, but I’m thinking long range
I ain’t switch over, I just made my own lane

Even in that quoted verse, there are still some lacking elements but it was probably the best example I could find. And the lack of consistency is what really brings Electric Circus from a great album to a could-have-been-great album.

So in truth, Common’s second album with the Soulquarians is a mess. It’s a daring, adventurous, and quite entertaining mess. But it’s still a mess. No way around it. And if the man claims to be the embodiment of music, there’s gotta be more to it than amazing production and inconsistent rhymes. Hell, even Lil Wayne claims to be music but are we really believing it?

Rating: 7.75/10

Favorite Tracks: “Aquarius”, “Come Close”, “New Wave”, and “Between You, Me, and Liberation”

Old School Review: LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE by Common

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This is how we as humans know the simile (mostly because we don’t have time to actually think about it and we just accept it since it came in a movie). For the artist, the simile means something different. It’s not about probability. It’s about experience. And sometimes, a truly artistic achievement would be an album that exposes different sides of an artist in a presentable and elaborate fashion. It is beyond saying, “I feel angry” or “Being rich is cool” or “I miss you”. The artist has to let down a bit and explain himself, not having to worry about opinion, typecasting, or repercussions. He has to present himself as a whole staying genuine and listenable.

For years, Common has been that artist. The artist who despite his “conscious” rap typecasting proves to be more than just that. As Common admits, “By Rakim and Short I been inspired”, even he is wary of his “conscious rapper” label. After all, he has made some songs that could align him with many hardcore rappers out there today. But Common understands these contradictions. And in Like Water for Chocolate, he brings all aspects of his life in a cohesive package that is engrossing and unforgettable.

When Common moved to New York to join the Soulquarians, the decision was met with skepticism by his long-time supporters who felt that ?uestlove and J Dilla would take him away from his jazzy, Chicago roots with No I.D. But all mouths were shut when J Dilla (who helmed most of the album’s production) made atmospheric, funky productions that gave Common greater focus and new perspective. ?uestlove and D’Angelo paired up for a couple of great tracks and DJ Premier turned in a monster as usual (“The 6th Sense”). But J Dilla is the real champion here. 

On song called “Funky For You”, Common ditches convention and ends most of his bars with a sound. In “Dooinit”, he feels gangsta enough to say “Let his Bentley and his weak crew be his cushion/I catch him on the streets, in front of the bodyguards and rush him”. Whereas One Day It’ll All Make Sense felt jarring at times when Common expressed different sides of his personality, Like Water for Chocolate feels far more focused thanks to the unified sound. Such adventurous decisions could have proven far too inconsistent given other circumstances.

Going back to Common’s statement about being inspired about Rakim and Short: there is a song about pimpin’. Unusual for a Common album, post-Can I Borrow a Dollar?. “A Film Called (PIMP)” tells a tale about a pimp trying to convince one of his former girls (played hilariously by MC Lyte) to come back. Maybe Common doesn’t condone the lifestyle but he does find something interesting about it.

But a Common album would not be a Common album if there weren’t any reflective statements. “The Light” is the best example of Common’s clever and remarkably deep lyricism:

Because of you, feelings I handle with care
Some n*ggas recognize the light but they can’t handle the glare
You know I ain’t the type to walk around with matchin shirts
If relationship is effort I will match your work
I wanna be the one to make you happiest, it hurts you the most
They say the end is near, it’s important that we close..
.. to the most, high
Regardless of what happen on him let’s rely

I am willing to admit that when I first heard this track, those bars did not register in me at once. Perhaps I was too young to really understand what he was saying. But now growing up, the bars about commitment made more sense to me because I could relate better at this age. You could say that these rhymes can actually constitute for the term, “grown-man rap” since one could only understand at a certain point in their life.

Not all Common fans admit Like Water for Chocolate as one of their favorites. Some still feel that Common strayed a little too far. But for me, Like Water for Chocolate represents Common at his highest artistic peak. It is a work that represents every facet of his personality and shows far too much diversity to be typecast. Like Prodigy says in a sample in “The 6th Sense”: “This is rap for real; something you feel.”

Rating: 11/10

Favorite Tracks: Heat, The Light, Funky for You, The 6th Sense, A Film Called (PIMP), Nag Champa, Payback is a Grandmother, A Song for Assata