Hip-hop and Hollywood share at least one thing in common: Star-studded lineups never guarantee a work of art. In fact, some material’s strength is often diluted proportionately to the number of egos featured.
This gives “Electric Circus,” the new album by Chicago MC, Common, an air of suspicion. Common (aka Lonnie Lynn Jr.) has assembled an all-star cast, including the graduating class of ’90s neo-soul: Cee-lo, Bilal, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. With so much talent in one studio, the album could have easily collapsed under its own weight, but Lynn expands the parameters of hip-hop formula far enough for the star parade to strut through without stepping on each other’s feet.
Up until 2000’s near-perfect “Like Water For Chocolate,” Common was never quite comfortable paddling around the pool of positivity that marked ’90s jazz-laden hip-hop. Now, “Electric Circus” taps into his identity crisis, revealing Lynn’s many faces (father, lover, thug, activist) using elements of rock, psychedelic soul and gospel.
Read the entire review at The Japan Times Online.