Like Water For Chocolate

Common

MCA, 2000

http://www.common-music.com/

REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/13/2007

Like Water For Chocolate is an absolute production masterpiece. With the late J-Dilla handling the entire production with the exception of one track, it really is depressing to think about what could have been if Dilla hadn’t tragically passed.

Common has always been an incredible MC, and when you add excellent and soulful production to the mix it’s pretty impossible to create anything close to a subpar album. Like Water For Chocolate is, in many cases, a turning point in Common’s career. While One Day It Will All Make Sense paled in comparison to his phenomenal sophomore release Resurrection, Like Water For Chocolate proved Common still had it, and possibly better than ever.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This album has an incredible sense of unity due to Dilla handling the majority of production and the informative and soulful “Time Travelin’” interludes. Common also wisely chooses to have limited guest appearances, which allows his message to come directly to the audience with no interference.

Common’s intentions are clear on “Dooinit” as he professes his disregard for commercial success while still criticizing fake MCs who sell out in more ways than one. Common separates himself from other MCs because he has a very effective way of depicting his message. Although it’s clear how he feels about them, he doesn’t elaborate on if what they’re doing is right or wrong, because he doesn’t need to.

But Common is diverse, and when he is not criticizing his peers in the hip-hop industry he is creating a very soulful love song in “The Light.” Most say this is his love confession to Erykah Badu, but either way, Common delivers a very sincere and smooth groove that anyone who has felt romantic emotions for someone can relate to.

The highlight of this album is a DJ Premier track titled “The Sixth Sense.” Once again, Common is ripping the industry while providing an alternative and a solution. Common doesn’t simply say “fuck hip-hop” but acknowledges that there is a problem and offers a solution: “I just want to innovate and stimulate minds.” That is what Common has been doing his entire career, and it’s a shame that he feels the industry is not necessarily facilitating his goal.

Like Water For Chocolate falters only on two occasions with “Funky For You” and “Nag Champa.” Both of these tracks are phenomenal instrumentals but contain an unfocused Common who relies a little too much on the high quality production to carry the respective songs.

But overall it is a great album, and even Common’s father contributes to the rich poetic closing track “Pops Rap III...All My Children,” containing --  no surprise -- a stellar laid-back groove courtesy of Mr. Dilla. Common offers insightful raps filled with inspiring messages and constructive criticism of the music industry. If you love hip-hop, pick up this album.

R.I.P. J-Dilla.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Ben Ehrenreich and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.