Common’s evolution is tricky to navigate. On his 1992 debut, Can I Borrow A Dollar?, he was the beer-guzzling, weed-smoking, hood dude. Two years later, Common was more thoughtful on the landmark Resurrection, a creative approach that came to full fruition on 2000’s Like Water for Chocolate and 2005’s Be. He traveled to outer space on Electric Circus (I dunno, I liked it) and flirted with light electro-pop on Universal Mind Control.
So Common can opt for a new sound at any time, which makes this new beat tape a Herculean feat. Curated by Gadget—a local multimedia producer—Common: The Beat Tape Project collects 36 tracks from producers in the DMV and elsewhere. The goal? Make beats that sound like something the MC would rap to. Jon Laine‘s “Tennis Star” sounds like “The Hustle” (from Electric Circus) and Str8 Beatz‘ “Sign of the Ages” resembles something from 2007’s Finding Forever.