The rapper formerly known as Common Sense snaps, crackles, and pops the perceived boundaries of hip-hop on his fifth (second for MCA) album.

The rapper formerly known as Common Sense snaps, crackles, and pops the perceived boundaries of hip-hop on his fifth (second for MCA) album. Fans of his conscious, intelligent 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, and newcomers mesmerized by "The Light" on the 2000 soul/hip-hop manifesto Like Water for Chocolate, are treated, this time, to a free-wheeling, energetic mix that reflects Common's penchant for experimentation. Rock is the pervading influence here, with the rapper showing appreciation for such acts as Pink Floyd, Traffic, and Jimi Hendrix—the last of which on "Jimi Was a Rock Star" with a singing Common pairing with Erykah Badu. Not as easy, overall, to quickly embrace as Common's radio-friendly stints with Badu on "Love of My Life" or Mary J. Blige on his current, Neptunes-produced sparkler "Come Close," Electric Circus is ultimately a rewarding experience for those who take the time to fully immerse themselves.—GM

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