Expectations are a reality in the music industry. We as fans have expectations for an artist. Labels have expectations for their artists. And artists probably have expectations for themselves. So what do we, as fans, expect when an artist graces us with a classic album? Another classic, of course. But how many artists follow up a classic with yet another true classic? Two hands suffice for that count–if that.
A lot happened to Common Sense following the release of Resurrection. He gained a new throng of fans and dropped the “Sense” part of his name. In fact, the allusion to his previous alias in the title of One Day It’ll All Make Sense, is probably no coincidence being that it’s the follow-up to Resurrection, an album laced with a myriad of witty puns and wordplay. Anticipation grew prior to the release of this album, and of course, expectations soared.
The first track, titled “Introspective,” is an eery bassline featuring only Common’s spoken words. It sets the tone for the rest of this album. He welcomes us to his world and expresses that his music is not just music, it’s “like his whole life.”
“Invocation” is a short track consisting of a jazzy loop provided by none other than NO I.D. himself, the man whom many consider as equally responsible for the brilliance of Resurrection as Common. Although short, Com’s verse is full of his usual wordplay: “On a Quest for Love like the proceed drummer/I strike like lightening and don’t need thunder.” Perhaps a shout-out to ?uestlove and the rest of the Okayplayers–a group he would later join? Seems likely.
“Real Nigga Quotes” picks up nicely with a thick horn section and guitar riff. Dug Infinite supplies a catchy hook fitting for the occassion. As usual, Com keeps the lyrics appealing:
“Real Nigga quotes I tote, got some shit on the free but
This some shit that I wrote, legendary like The Goat
Who got game? Giving a quarter rest while I make these quarter notes
My album niggas was expectin’, now my quarter broke
Before it, I was sorta broke
Get the paper for the funnies, sports and the horoscope”
“Retrospect For Life,” featuring Lauryn Hill, is perhaps the most memorable track on One Day It’ll All Make Sense. The track itself isn’t necassarily one of the best in Common’s catalogue. But the mellow, piano-driven beat is complimented nicely by Com’s conviction as he delves into the always-controversial subject of abortion. Hill’s soulful singing on the choruses are also a nice bonus. The liner notes offer a short biographical sketch of Com during this tumultuous time in his life, and it’s easy to see he had a lot on his mind as he braced himself for the birth of his first child:
“For a while, bearing a child is something I never wanted to do
For me to live forever, I could only do that through you
Nerve I got to talk about them niggas with a gun
Must have really thought I was God to take the life of my son
I could have sacrificed goin out
To think my homies who did it, I used to joke about
From now on, I’ma use self control instead of birth control
‘Cause three hundred and fifteen dollars ain’t worth your soul
Three hundred and fifteen dollars ain’t worth your soul
Three hundred and fifteen dollars ain’t worth it…”
Perhaps it is because he repeats the line three times, or perhaps it is because I personally find the line particularly poignant, but “Three hundred and fifteen dollars ain’t worth your soul,” always moved me a bit. That line alone may best summarize this touching song.
“Gettin’ Down At The Amphitheater,” featuring De La Soul, lacks an engaging beat and comes off as a contrived move on Com’s part to put one of hip hop’s most influential groups on a track. The light-hearted party lyrics aren’t bad, but the beat is forgettable. This is one of the few instances where NO I.D. comes up short for Com. “Food for Funk,” another NO I.D. production, is, as the name implies, funky. It’s probably not the best track on the album, but it’s likeable as both Com and NO I.D. bring their usual witty lyrics and nice beat, respectively.
“G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition),” featuring Cee-Lo, is another sweet track in the same vein as “Retrospect for Life.” Another light piano beat is laid down by NO I.D. as Com and Cee-Lo explore religion in a diverse, troubled world. The track is laced with introspective biblical references by both artists and Cee-Lo keeps the track fresh with his quirky delivery on his verses and the chorus. Peep Com’s first verse:
“Some say that God is black and the Devil is white
Well, the Devil is wrong and God is what’s right
I fight, with myself in the ring of doubt and fear
The rain ain’t gone, but I can still see clear
As a child, given religion with no answer as to why
Just told “believe in Jesus” ‘cuz for me he did die”
Common shows his “bohemian” side a bit on “My City” as he allows Malik “The Wordsmith” Yusef to spit some spoken-word poetry over a mellow, minimal beat. “Hungry” has a decent beat–definitely unique–as NO I.D. provides a smooth loop which is interrupted every-so-often by a choppy, stuttering horn. “All Night Long” is an unmistakable Soulquarian beat which you might think was accidentally left off of The Roots’ “Illadelph Halflife” or “Things Fall Apart.” Erykah Badu provides her trademark silky vocals.
“Stolen Moments Pt. 1” is a glorified interlude that leads directly into “Stolen Moments Pt. II,” which is simultaneously one of the most suprising and best tracks on the album. NO I.D. diverges from his usual jazz beats with an intense, string loop and he pulls it off beatifully. Com meshes nicely with the track and Black Thought of The Roots even pops up for a cameo. Dug Infinite provides a bouncy beat on “1’2 Many” as Com counts off the one-too-many wannabes and copy-cats in the hip hop industry. Q-Tip’s appearance on “Stolen Moments Pt. III” is welcomed–though he doesn’t spit any lyrics–but the “Stolen Moments” series is getting old by this, the third installment.
“Making A Name For Ourselves” features a young, hungry Canibus. The beat is ideal for the theme of this song: Two emcees trying to get their feet in the door of hip hop. I’m not a huge Canibus fan, but I’ll admit this: There aren’t many emcees in hip hop that could outshine Com on his own track, but Canibus may have pulled it off here. His flow is dead-on and the lyrical barrage is menacing. “Reminding Me (of Sef)” is decent: The beat (produced by Ynot) is average and Com’s lyrics are solid as he reminisces of his past days, but the chorus, crooned by Chantay Savage, could have been left off. The album–perhaps a bit too long at 17 tracks–ends on another installment of what has become a staple of Com’s albums: Pop’s Rap.
I am the first to admit that I was dissapointed when I heard this album–probably because I held unfair expectations as to what it SHOULD have been. But after each listen I find something else that I like about it. I usually don’t pay much attention to interludes, intros or outros, but the first track on One Day…, “Introspective,” is probably one of the truest I’ve ever heard. Com says outright, that this album is the work of a young man undergoing many personal and life-altering experiences; Not only was he at a personal cross-roads in his life, but this album is itself a cross-roads in his musical career. Ironically, this album falls short of classic status, though it is sandwiched between the release of two hip hop classics: Resurrection and Like Water for Chocolate. If you haven’t heard One Day It’ll All Make Sense yet, leave your pretensions and expectations at the door and enjoy it for what it is: Catchy, introspective and thought-provoking.