"Electric Circus" is the fifth album from the Conscious Chicago MC, Common. It came out in 2002, three years before he really broke out when he was given lots of Kanye West production on "Be". Since he is considered to be "alternative" in terms of Hip Hop, he isn't limited in any way to what he does, and here he takes advantage of this by choosing to implement Electronica, Funk and Neo-Soul to his work
1. "Ferris Wheel" (Intro)
2. "Soul Power"
J Dilla does the beats here, and you know that when he's behind the production, you are bound to have it come up with great results, and they work fantastically well with the way in which Common performs his raps. He refers to all the people who have gone on to aid him in the world when it comes to music.
Looking at this in light of listneign through th labum as a whole, this is a pretty unmmeorable one from Common, and one which I expect you to overlook, however, despite the lack of energy, the collaboration with Bilal and Erykah Badu is.
4. "Electric Wire Hustler Flower"
The variety of the album begins to come through at this early stage as you get him come with a strong attempt at a little Rock Rap with his general style being implemented through the rest of the track. It is highly effective, and shows he's ready to take on something more original for this album.
I found this to be one of the best tracks from the record and it has him refer to how hustling has been a part of black culture since its foundations. The way that Comm goes for no-messing Hip hop, was what made it so good for me, as when he reverts to this, almost so much variety, it really shows off how well he perform it.
6. "Come Close"
Here is one of my favourites from Common, and one which initially attracted me to him. I'm surprised that it did, considering the fact it is a love song in rap form, but the way that he does it in such a laid-back and smooth style forces you to enjoy it. The proposal words of "I want yo to have my last name" completes what is a killer tune from the Chicago MC.
Here is a stron tune which has J Dilla and ?uestlove come together for a big collaboration of production to create a heavy Hip Hop cut, complete with little Old School samples. This one has Common show off his lyrical diversity more than in any point throughout the album.
8. "Star 69"
On this you have Common show another side to himself as he goes into a Electronica piece. Despite the fact that I don't genreally enjoiy that style, one which he annoying still calls "Techno", manages to work for him, adding to how varied the "Electric Circus" already is.
9. "I Got The Right Ta"
As a switch in the way that common goes about doing his Hip hop as he recruits the new age production duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, as The Neptunes, to make the beats and come out with something different for the album. Common matches this change by referring to Neptunes-produced "Grindin'" in his raps.
10."Between Me, You & Liberation"
What starts off as a mellow and intimate song with Common talking about how things go in the bedroom with other girls, quickly changes as you hear of how the women which he is currently with was abused by her father in her childhood. From here, Common comes with lots of thought-provoking words to the listeners along this subject.
11."I Am Music"
Here Common gets the chance to show off all the influences which have gone into the making of the artist we se today. I liked the fact that he chose to use some jazzy, Swing backing to give him the right production to show how varied it all is, and how after getting so many styles in his music, he can finally say he is it.
12. "Jimi Was A Rock Star"
Here is a long tracks which has the album seemingly make another significant change in order to show that Common is making "Electric Circus" an experimental piece. The Roots' ?uestlove takes control in this one as you get Common singing with Erykah Badu about Jimi Hendrix with an attempt at Rock & Roll.
13. "Heaven Somewhere"
To end the release, you get a te-minute-long track which has Common bring together some of the finest vocal talent in Mary J. Blige, Omar, Jill Scott, Bilal and Erykah Badu, all of whom made an appearance here, or on thoer works by the artist. It acts as a lasting reminder of how much went into making this album different from anything Common has done before.
Clearly, this album marks a significant change in the artist, however I felt as though this wasn't able to develop too much more after this album, since the commercially successful "Be came after it. However you have to appreciate the fact that he chose to use a variety of musical genre successfully to come out with a strong Hip Hop album, without putting people off.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Ferris Wheel - Common, Vinia Mojica, Marie Daulne
2 Soul Power - Common
3 Aquarius - Common, Bilal
4 Electric Wire Hustle Flower - Common, Sunny
5 The Hustle - Common, Omar, Dart Chillz
6 Come Close - Common, Mary J. Blige
7 New Wave - Common, Laetitia Sadier
8 Star * 69 (PS With Love) - Common, Bilal
9 I Got A Right Ta - Common, Pharrell Williams
10 Between Me, You & Liberation - Common, Cee-Lo
11 I Am Music - Common, Jill Scott
12 Jimi Was A Rock Star - Common, Erykah Badu
13 Heaven Somewhere - Common, Omar Lye-Fook, Cee-Lo, Bilal, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Lonnie Lynn
14 The Light - Common