COMMON Electric Circus (MCA) Rating: NNN
As with the Roots, Common is all about knocking down preconceptions on the wildly eclectic Electric Circus. There are high-profile production jobs from the Neptunes, ?uestlove and Jay Dilla, but this is about as far away from a straight-ahead hiphop album as you can get. With guests ranging from Prince and Erykah Badu to Stereolab, Zap Mama and Sonny from POD, Common plugs his typically brainy rhymes into psychedelic rock, quaint jazz and space pop. It's unlike anything else out there, and when it works, it's astonishing. Unlike, say, the Roots, though, Common often sounds too smart and eclectic for his own good, like he's just experimenting for the sake of it.