Socially conscious rapper goes psychedelic, with stunning results

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Common – Electric Circus

The Sgt Pepper-style cover suggests a counterpart to OutKast’s Stankonia, but Common’s emphasis is more on social and historical awareness. Tracks like “Aquarius” and “Star’69 (PS With Love)” recall the utopian psychedelic soul of Rotary Connection?though the lyrics are firmly rooted in reality?but the fabric stretches from the wonderfully seductive “Come Close” duet with Mary J Blige to the brilliantly askew deployment of Stereolab in “New Wave”. “Jimi Was A Rock Star”, featuring Erykah Badu, is a fabulous freeform mantra and one of the best Hendrix tributes extant.

To be filed alongside the Roots’ recent Phrenology.