If only because of Canibus’ name, everybody should know that this guy is not a polite guest. All over rapdom, MCs have been inviting Canibus to do cameos on their albums. The result has generally been the same—the host MC is forced to consider a career change. Common, a rude cameo guest himself, is undaunted. Thus, the centerpiece of his new album, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, is not the bouncy “All Night Long” or the preachy “Retrospect for Life” but the verbally confrontational “Making a Name For Ourselves.” Both Canibus and Common are Big Daddy Kane disciples—power hitters driven by punchy one-liners. So “Making a Name” is a lot like the soundtrack to a Mike Tyson fight. Canibus takes the honors: “The earth got one sun but I walk with three shadows/Wit’ Allah, my supernatural bodyguard/Niggas couldn’t touch me if they gave me a massage.” But Common has a whole album on which to shine, and he does—though much of his work lacks the spontaneity of “Making a Name.” The production, handled by NO I.D.,

is distinctly Chicago—lush but bluesy. Lyrically, Common delivers no shocks. His words are, as usual, well crafted,

and his flow is competent. But the lack of surprises makes for a solid, and at times mediocre, album—something that, for an MC of Common’s talent, should never make sense.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates