Common

'Be' Yourself

ToniChicago rapper Common returns this week with "Be," which was produced by Kanye West and is being issued by his G.O.O.D. Music imprint and Geffen, to which Common remains signed. The artist describes the title's meaning as "simply to do without trying hard. I got to that point because on every album, I found myself trying to innovate a new music. This album, I felt like letting it be. If it sounds like something I've done before, so be it."

Highlights include "Go," which Common says is about "going back to your fantasy." The guest appearance by singer/songwriter John Mayer may raise eyebrows, but his sampled voice is put to intriguing use on the track.

"That was really a song that came in a divine way," Common says. "Kanye said, 'Let's go to the movies to see "Ray."' I met him and he and John Mayer were there. John had come to the studio, so I'd met him before, but I was surprised to see him. After the movie, we were inspired and just went and created this song."

Also included is "The Food," which West and Common first performed on "Chappelle's Show" and was the first track the pair created for the project. "Kanye called me to come by the studio but he was working on another artist's project," Common recalls. "He made this beat, but the artist wasn't there yet. So I took the beat and made a song out of it. He was like, 'Hurry up and leave before the artist comes!'"

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