Common | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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At one point on his new album, Finding Forever (Geffen), Common tries to smooth-talk a potential paramour who doesn't date rappers: "I've got my SAG card, baby," he tells her. "I'm an actor." It's true he's been turning up on the silver screen, but he also switches roles like a chameleon on disc, covering the range from straight-up bangers to sappy, fuzzily spiritual ballads. At his best he's one of hip-hop's most talented and dynamic figures, and here he mixes tough beats with 70s soul like he did on his comeback, Be. But for a guy who's known for being smarter than the average MC, he sure can sound full of it. "The People" is a self-tribute that follows lines like "White folks focus on dogs and yoga / While people on the low end tryin' to ball and get over" with a real kicker: "When I see them struggling / I think how I'm touchin' them." Although his persistent big-upping of Chicago seems disingenuous for a guy who split town a decade ago, his hard-driving "Southside" with Kanye West is hard to resist, and it's nice to hear D'Angelo again--he sings the hook on "So Far to Go." Joss Stone and Ryan Shaw open. a 7 PM, Charter One Pavilion, 1300 S. Linn White Dr., Northerly Island at Burnham Harbor, 312-540-2000 or 312-559-1212, $41. A --Peter Margasak

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