History: I knew that some of the rhythm and instrumentals reminded me of another artist. Kanye West was the main producer for this album. It was received by audiences well and went on to be one of his best selling albums. Not only was it a hit with fans, but also the critics. Common's previous album, Electric Circus, had proven to be a failure, so the switch in record companies by joining with one that West owned showed that Common was ready for change as well.
Vocals: Common does have one of the better rapping vocals I've heard. It caught me from the first song. What is always a disappointment though is the lyrical content. While Common still has more progressive lyrical content it also relies on just language that is tough to listen to. For many you'll notice on the opening track, "The Corner" that he enlisted the controversial artist, The Last Prophets.
Instrumentals: There are some good moments with the instrumentals especially when the brass is worked into the tunes. The flow of the rhythm is very smooth, and on tracks like "Be" it does have one of the better arrangements I've heard. It is a different style of hip hop, and the deeper context of what is happening in the lyrics is reflected in the instruments. Interestingly for "Go!" though John Mayer did accompany with Kanye West while Common did vocals.
Recording: With it only being 2005 when this was recorded you can imagine that the album still sounds as current today. On top of that the lyrics don't differ much from what the genre has always been reflecting since the 90's. The lyrics do have unsettling messages at times that just veer on being too egotistical at times to enjoy. The recording though is one that will be slow to get dated.
If you're into hip hop then Common might be suiting to what you like. I would have even been more inclined to enjoy this album more had it not be for lyrics that just unsettled me to listen to. Then again it seems the genre of hip hop does like to push the boundaries. It's like the new metal of nowadays where people say things that make you scratch your head or lyrics that evoke odd faithless messages.