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Electric Circus

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Album Review

Firmly out of the underground by the time Electric Circus came out in late 2002, Common takes the vision to the next level, employing high-profile producers ?uestlove, Dilla (Jay Dee), and the Neptunes. It's no surprise that the ?uestlove tracks push the most unclaimed territory. The Roots' Phrenology record, which appeared concurrent with Electric Circus, also flips the script on preconceived notions of beats and rhymes. Frequently the new sound on both records is pushed into a strange, sometimes aggressive, blunted rock/soul hybrid that still pulls the line for able-bodied MCs. Then there's also the Neptunes' tracks here, which are perfectly suited for MTV and urban radio. The Mary J. Blige duet, "Come Close," is a slow-paced dialogue between Common and Blige that borders on typical, but will still find a great number of fans. "Electric Wire Hustler Flower" is the true centerpiece of the record, though — another ?uestlove jam, the song is tough but sensitive enough to maintain the layers of rhythm, rhyme, and abstraction. Electric Circus does suffer from that which ails many contemporary hip-hop albums — too many guests (including a strange appearance by Laetitia Sadier [Stereolab]) and a generally lengthy program drag this one down a tad. Nonetheless, Electric Circus is a brave and ruthless statement wrapped in sincerity.

Customer Reviews


How did i not realise that common had released this album untill today. Have all his other albums and can't stop listening to them. This album is yet another brilliant addition to his ever growing postfolio. "I am Music" is an absolutely brilliant track. Very musical album, not every track on here is his usual brilliance but the vast majority is very very hot !! Definitly worth checking out !!! Keep your eye's out for his new album over summer as well !! More electronic stuff, i'm sure it'll be another classic though !!

Not as good as Be!!

Just listen to 'The Light' and come back to me. That song is Common no doubt!

Definitely Not Like Water For Chocolate

Anyone expecting an album in the same vein as Common's other work will be in for a surprise when they listen to "Electric Circus" for the first time. But show some patience and this genuinely under appreciated album's qualities will begin to show through, be it with the pulsating energy of "Soul Power" or the relaxed flow of "Come Close", demonstrating that this album can hold its head high amongst the more acclaimed works produced either side of it, particularly as it has a longevity that is perhaps absent of "Be" - when you listen to this it is difficult to believe that it came out in 2002, as it still sounds like no other rap album (even Mos Def's less consistent "New Danger") and nothing like the beats of Mr West. As such it deserves to be part of any hip hop afficionado's collection - though is perhaps too edgy to serve as an entry point to this particular artist. My one major criticism is the re-inclusion of "The Light" - it just doesn't fit with the rest of the album.


Born: 13 March 1972 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Common (originally Common Sense) has been one of the most highly influential figures in rap music, keeping the sophisticated lyrical technique and flowing syncopations of jazz-rap alive in an era when the mainstream and hardcore have increasingly threatened to obliterate everything in its path. His outward-looking, nimbly performed rhymes and political consciousness haven't always fit the fashions of rap trends, but his albums have been praised by critics, and he achieved mainstream popularity with...
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Electric Circus, Common
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