Rock Daily had a chance to hear Common's new record today, and while we're disappointed the artist himself wasn't at the listening session -- we wanted to talk suede hats with him -- Finding Forever sounded pretty darn good on first listen. It's a harder, slightly darker sequel to '05's lush, multi-Grammy-nominated Be, with Common maintaining his thoughtful brassiness and sharp narratives and Kanye West returning as chief producer.
Kanye produced eight tracks on the not-quite-finished version we heard, and almost all of them are great -- simultaneouly lush and bangin' in a way that compliments Common's mama-friendliness but helps cut down on his snooze factor. Standouts include "Drivin' Me Wild," a thickly detailed vignette about a young couple's vertingous love affair with hip-hop, money and each other. The song banks on Kanye's killer piano-and-snare loop and a catchy hook courtesy of Lily Allen, who sounds totally Beyonce here. Then there's the title track, which sounds something like a gospel choir directed by George Clinton -- pianos and overlapping soul voices rising toward heaven, underpinned by a deftly syncopated beat that (we think) samples Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."
Oh, yeah, best Common line, from "Start the Show": "Twelve monkees on stage, hard to see who's a gorilla / You was better as a drug dealer." (Free lunch to anyone who tells can us who he's dissing.)