Common S.T.O.R.Y. is Minneapolis/NYC producers K-Salaam and Beatnick's polished remix of 10 classics by the Chi-Town emcee.
The project has recent hits like "Go - ft. Kanye West," "The Corner" parts 1 and 2 and vintage gems such as "I Used To Love H.E.R." and "The Light." Each track has been given a full retrofit, with new chords, instrumentation, beat programming and mixdown. All that remains are Common's original, smooth, brainaic rhyme verses, which have always flowed more effortlessly than most of his peers.
The project is ambitious -- how do you do justice by one of hip-hop's all time greats and still put your own stamp on it?
Well, for starters, K-Salaam and Beatnick have had some practice, having recently released their own studio debut, the seriously dope and criminally slept on Whose World Is This?. The 2008 VP release featured Jamaica and the US's finest over crisp club-friendly productions that blur distinctions between reggae, R&B, hip-hop and pop.
Trey Songz and Buju Banton's combination "Street Life," on a re-lick of The Police's "Roxanne" riddim, is perfect example of the album's open-minded synergy.
It's still a vital recording and hopefully will make a few critics Top-Ten's for the year. The duo's hometown paper City Pages had this to say:
On Whose World Is This?, the surrounding album by K-Salaam & Beatnick (released this week by reggae powerhouse VP Records), the track's peace plea carries the needed cache of militancy: Elsewhere dancehall and hip-hop singers of "the people's struggle" answer the album title in different ways: Dead Prez mourns "Fallen Soldierz," Talib Kweli references Gandhi and Do the Right Thing, Sizzla and Young Buck declare "Babylon (Must Be Mad)."
For more proof of the album's strong qualities, check this winner from Sizzla Kalonji:
K-Salaam is distinctive, as one of hip-hop's prominent Iranian-American producers, as well as an outspoken activist who connects the dots between American foreign policy and the struggles of America's dispossessed, be they in the inner city, post-Katrina New Orleans or small towns coping with economic woes.
So you can see the connections and, well, commonalities with Common, who has also advocated for just causes, including (Product) Red, PETA and the Obama campaign.
But shared political outlooks alone couldn't assure that S.T.O.R.Y. would turn out dope. Enter Beatnick and K-Salaam's expansive sound palette, which includes acoustic guitar leads, vintage and digital keyboard and synth backdrops, live bass guitar and a genuine and mature musicality, which really stands out among today's simplistic MIMS and Soljaboy beats.
So do the team a favor -- cop Whose World Is This? and help support these creative cats.
You can download the entire Common S.T.O.R.Y. album at Commonremixed.com