Old School Reviews: Common – One Day It’ll All Make Sense

30 07 2007

by mr. travis

Common - One Day It’ll All Make Sense

Artist: Common
Album: One Day It’ll All Make Sense
Label: Relativity
Release Date: Sep. 30, 1997

Common’s sophomore record, Resurrection, was both a beginning and an ending for the fledgling rapper. No longer could he be known as Common Sense, a lawsuit by a ska band (of all things) eliminated the right to go by the moniker. But, it was the sound that began on his second record that would survive and thrive, no matter what name he chose to go by. Unfortunately, on his third album, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, in an effort to attract a more mainstream audience he manages to outreach his own grasp, though that may be due to the production more than Common’s own rapping prowess.

Preceding this album, Common’s own personal life underwent a drastic change, with the birth of his son, causing a stylistic shift in his lyrical musings. Yes, he still goes with the personal, but he’s found himself even more mature than before as seen on the song “Retrospective for Life,” the first single that features guest Lauryn Hill, then coming off of her hit album with the Fugees. Which is fine, but it brings attention to another problem, this is the first release that is loaded with guest stars, as if the label was unsure if Common could stand on his own. With guests such as Cee-Lo, Black Thought, Q-Tip, and two-thirds of De La Soul showing up sporadically, it gives the record a patchwork feel that does not hold up with subsequent listens.

Starting off with the spoken word “Introspective,” Common give the listener the thesis for his album, he wants to “open his mortal window,” allowing everyone to see into his life. Which is fine, but right away on the follow up track “Invocation,” the production problems set in. It’s not really an issue of any major change, Common still delves into pop culture (by name checking Stevie Wonder), a jazz guitar sings in the background emphasizing his flow, all of which is fine. But, producer No I.D., who produced the first two Common albums as well, is overmatched, making the mistake of trying to give the production an unnatural loudness to compensate for his own production flaws. Such flaws are even more obvious on the track “Getting Down at the Amphitheatre,” which sounds like a bad De La Soul rip off (made even worse by the appearance of Posdnuos and Trugoy, two-thirds of De La Soul). Instead of making it sound organic, the track sounds forced, halting what little momentum the album had.

Until this album, Common was able to get by on his own strengths as an MC, featuring very little in the way of guest stars. But, this feels like a blatant attempt to bring in a new audience. Guests are fine, but when the album is as guest heavy as this one it begins to be distracting. And, again, the production doesn’t help.

There are some bright spots though. “My City” is a minimalist spoken word entry with guest Malik Yusef is both beautiful and strong. “G.O.D (Gaining One’s Definition)” continues the positive prose of his previous records, featuring Cee-Lo who is welcomed addition to the proceedings for he adds to the song instead of becoming a distraction. Same with Lauryn Hill on the aforementioned single “Retrospective for Life” a stinging confessional commentary on Common’s own life as a new father and his regret at an aborted pregnancy. Rarely does a hip hop artist become as confessional as Common is here, such avid emotion is almost forbidden within the macho posturing of rap (and a lot of mainstream music in general). Which makes the closing number, “Pop’s Rap pt. 2: Fatherhood” even that much better as Lonnie Lynn tell of his pride with his son, tying in the overarching themes of newfound responsibility, maturity, and family.

While this was the most successful of Common’s albums up to this point (selling over 70,000 copies in its first week), he may have realized that he was at a dead end for soon after he would leave Chicago to go to New York where he would meet up with J Dilla and ?uestlove (of the Roots), joining the Soulquarians and pushing his rhymes into a more psychedelic territory. The change would be welcome and it would contribute to making the follow-up to One Day It’ll All Make Sense a return to form.

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