Finding Forever is the victim of being in the shadow of the classic Common album that came out just a few years prior. The album is a clear step down from Be, both for Common as an emcee and for Kanye West as a producer. It’s not nearly as cohesive, and switching slightly from the warm, friendly soul samples on Be to something a little more mystical, spacey and less obviously upbeat at times isn’t the same vibe.
But, with some distance and without comparing it to the album that came before it, I think Finding Forever is actually quite good, and is an underrated record that can stand up for itself.
While not strictly soul-influenced, this is still close to peak Kanye West on a production and concept level. Almost every track fits together, and Common’s performance slides right in again so naturally.
“Start the Show” — with its grand, building chorus and cluttered but fun verses — and “The People” — a classic, catchy Common delivery with a smooth and intricate Kanye beat and soothing Dwele hook — are a fabulous one-two punch to open the record, and flow right into “Makin Me Wild.”
“Southside” has a bit more of a playful hook, while Kanye and Common trade lines back and forth in a fun way. “The Game” and “Break My Heart” also have all the calling cards of a Kanye song — muted horn samples, scratchy drum kicks and vocals that are pitched and chopped up.
“I Want You” and “Misunderstood,” — which are two of the three tracks not produced by Kanye — still sonically fit into the record, but both seem like a step below the rest. Will.i.am’s feature and slightly more pop-influenced sounds on “I Want You,” in particular, don’t really add anything to the record.
However, “So Far To Go” — the other track by an outside producer — is probably my favorite on the entire album. Rapping over a classic J Dilla flip of an Isley Brothers sample, and with the elusive D’Angelo singing backing vocals, the track draws me right in. Musically it’s beautiful in a chill, relaxing kind of way. Even though it was already included on Dilla’s posthumously 2006 album, this slightly altered version fits in really well here and feels like a fitting tribute, and a moment of zen and reflection in the middle of the record.