Finding Forever

Two years ago, Be was not only Common's highest-charting CD, it wasalso the best of his career — thoughtful, "bitch"-free and mama-friendly like all Common records, but also edgy, lush and likable all over,thanks to chief producer Kanye West. No surprise, then, that the Chicagorapper took a similar approach with Finding Forever: Kanye is back, producing eight tracks, and also back are the charged-up beats, R&B hooks, gospel singers and other warm, vibrant stuff. Dullness has always been a problem for Common, and a couple of snoozers, including "So Farto Go," invest too much in his good intentions and not enough in themusic. But when he's talking hard next to Kanye on the rocking "Startthe Show" or detailing a young couple's vertiginous love affair on theexcellent, Lily Allen-assisted "Drivin' Me Wild," his ear-grabbing command stands up to almost any MC out there.