Thursday, February 02, 2006

electric ladyland

One of my favourite and most-played albums of last year was Common's "Be", a really great album from the man Kanye West calls "the hip hop Marvin Gaye".

While I've been enjoying "Be" (and if you don't have it, you really should), I was bothered by the DVD accompanying the release, where various people seemed to disregard his previous album, "Electric Circus". The main complaints were that Common had taken to dressing like a freak (the crotched trousers, in particular, came in for some stick) and had been led by his then-squeeze Erykah Badu to neglect the hip hop faithful and become a "backpacker". Common, to his credit, wasn't having any of it, saying that "Electric Circus" was still true to him, it was just another side of his personality and was as far out as he could go. And that is pretty Far Out.

Common - Aquarius

It's been a while since we've used the term "psychedelic masterpiece" on The Rally, and "Electric Circus" definitely fits the bill. It sounds like no other hip hop album, often using the same production team as used on D'Angelo's "Voodoo", which I wrote about a while back. The collaborators on the album are pretty wild, too, ranging from the expected (The Neptunes) to the surprising (Prince) to the out-and-out "what-the...?" (Stereolab on the track "New Wave").

Common feat. Erykah Badu - Jim Was A Rock Star

The two tracks I've chosen here are coincidentally the ones with the most pronounced Erykah Badu involvement, but the whole album is so diverse it's been hard to narrow it down. "Jimi Was A Rock Star" is I think the closest any current artist has got to channeling the spirit of Funkadelic. Play it really LOUD, and try to imagine Fiddy having this much imagination or talent - as opposed to "this much talent".

Visit - Common
Buy - Electric Circus
Buy - Be

No comments: