During the time of recording his classic 2005 album "Be", Common lived together with his friend J DiLLA who had produced a majority of his two previous albums, "Like Water For Chocolate" and "Electric Circus". As a result DiLLA put in quite a lot of work on "Be" as well, and as heard in interviews from that year, the original plan was for him to produce 50 percent of the joints while the other half would be laced by KanYe West. When the album dropped, Jay Dee's role had been heavily reduced to only include two songs; but what amazing songs they were! To me, KanYe did some of his best work on "Be", yet Dilla's two contributions were the best tracks on the entire LP. Both these cuts ("Love Is..." and "The World is Yours Pts. 1 & 2") were so hauntingly beautiful, beating with heart and soul, and always had me wonder if the project would've been even iller if more of the Detroit legend's tracks had been saved. Luckily, much of that material has since either been leaked or released elsewhere, which allows us to form a pretty good picture of what "Be" might have been if Com had chosen another direction for the project. Yesterday, I inserted all five songs you'll find at the bottom of this post in between the eleven tracks on the retail, bumping up the length to about an hour, and gave the extended LP a real thorough listen. While I do find all of these lost tracks to be pretty damn amazing, I also believe that Common did the right thing by keeping the album in line, short but extremely focused.
Maybe the most interesting of the scrapped tracks from those sessions is the original demo version of the album intro, which made its way to the public in 2008 via DJ Eves and his "Laced With Gems" mixtape. It really doesn't have anything to do with the final, classic, intro as it features two completely different verses. The LP would have taken a whole different direction with this, as the intro sets the tone for what's to come; DiLLA's production here is dark and agressive with real knocking drums and a great vocal sample that builds tension during the verses and gets a beautiful release when it transforms into a hook in between. This is truly brilliant ish! The "Pimpin'" track comes from the same mixtape and has unfortunately not yet been released without DJ interference, although it's still pretty clean. A co-production between Karriem Riggins and Jay Dee, it's another fantastic piece although I can see why it wouldn't fit the album as it's not built around the Motown-ish soul sound. "The Movement" is a hardknock joint dedicated to the hip-hop movement that's slightly reminiscent in its vibe of "Aquarius" in my mind. Though it's nothing short of brilliant it doesn't sound like anything on "Be". I still think this could have been included, providing a kind of break from the mold to bring in some real hard shit just this one time... It would definitely be a real memorable stand-out that way. The track was released in 2005 on the otherwise dissapointing Decon compilation "NBA 2K6". Finally, we have "My Way Home", a short but potent one verse song based on Gil-Scott Heron's "Home is Were the Hatred is". I don't know why Common decided to cut this one; with it's sample based KanYe production it would have sounded right at home on the LP. Instead West picked it up in its unchanged form and wisely included it on his "Late Registration" LP a few months later.
As a bonus track, I also included the "Finding Forever" version of "So Far to Go", a song that always blew my mind in it's smooth, soulful production. Initiated as a continuation of the album single "GO!", this D'Angelo collaboration was originally slated to be released as part of a limited edition deluxe edition of "Be". I don't know what happened to that, but I remember seeing a version of the CD that also included a DVD (anyone seen that; and if so, what's on it?). So there you have it folks, 17 minutes of the great combo that is Common and DiLLA (with "My Way Home" produced by West). Play the "EP" as it is, pick it apart, insert the songs in your prefered sequence on to "Be", but whatever you do... TURN IT UP!!
01. "Be: Intro" [DiLLA's Demo Mix]
02. "Pimpin'" [co-prod. by DiLLA & Karriem Riggins]
03. "The Movement" [prod. by DiLLA]
04. " My Way Home" [prod. by KanYe West]
05. "So Far to Go" (Ft. D'Angelo) [prod. by DiLLA]
COMMON - "BE: THE LOST TAPES"
COMMON - "BE: THE LOST TAPES"