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Common - A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 (Album Review)

Thursday, 16 September 2021 Written by Josh Adams

Photo: Brian Bowen Smith

“‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2’  was created with hope and inspiration in mind,” Common said while trailing his new record. “The spirit of the album was meant to emulate what a greater day would sound and feel like.” But the Chicago rapper has in fact exemplified this mission statement far better on many of his previous 13 albums.

That’s not to say there aren’t highlights here, though. Get It Right, the album’s final song proper and the only track without a feature, could’ve slid easily into the soundtrack for Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther had it come along just a few years earlier.

Imagine, with PJ, the record’s favoured collaborator with five separate appearances, paints us a picture of paradise unspoiled by injustice—it’s made to sound even sweeter by punchy, understated percussion. And with its psychedelic style and wah pedal, Saving Grace sounds like co-star Brittany Howard on home turf. A true gem.

The disconnect arrives with the realisation that Common’s reliable lyrical talent isn’t often matched with instrumentals of the calibre that fans have come to expect.

There is none of the infectious virility of his collaborations with a young Kanye West (see GO! and The Food) nor the effortless cool of 1997’s Invocation—a career highlight thanks to its combative jabs at fellow rappers and sample loop of Jimmy Ponder’s Jennifer. The songs, quite frankly, just aren’t as catchy here.

Yet, nobody can deny that this is the sound of a musician, rapper and artist who is creatively mature. Ultimately, ‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2’ is well-rounded but a little too sedate—its greatest crime, if you could call it that, is that its scenic vista is dotted with too few peaks.

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