Besides being a wee bit preten... , er, ambitious, a big problem with Common's last album, Electric Circus, was its lack of unity. Songs were all over the place, so there was a weird vibe to it. Seemingly in response, for his sixth LP, Erykah Badu's ex teamed up with just fellow Chi City native Kanye West and Jay Dee (who really only does one song; the other is "co-produced" by West) and crafted Be, probably his strongest and most unified album since Resurrection. While tales of Common's onstage groupie-groping at his shows make me skeptical of his salt-of-the-hiphop-earth image, he's not only stepped up his lyrical game on this one, but what he speaks about is also light years more positive than anything else out right now. If there's any problem, it's West, whose production varies between enjoyable and passable, as his soul formula (sped up voices and all) is occasionally too softcore/played out.