Unlike many of his rap contemporaries, Rashid "Common" Lynn has matured artistically -- but he had a head start. Back in 1992 when he released his debut CD, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, under the name Common Sense, he was already sage beyond his age -- and since then, his work has only grown more confident. His latest album, Finding Forever, continues this trend so subtly that some listeners may see it as a holding action. Still, its best material builds on his past in a richly satisfying way. Pal Kanye West's production is displayed on eight songs here, and if "U, Black Maybe" feels a bit too retro-moralistic, "The People," a wonderfully intricate track, and the Lily Allen featurette "Drivin' Me Wild" couldn't be tastier. As for "So Far to Go," co-starring D'Angelo, it beautifully captures the sound of swooning. Common's latest is thoroughly adult hip-hop, and if that description sounds contradictory, it's only because so few of the genre's artists have been able to make this transition successfully. The music's of the moment, but it feels like Forever. --
Sat., Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m., 2008
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