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Common Reflects on The Divisive Reception to ‘Electric Circus’ and Having J Dilla as a Roommate

Common performs on stage with The Sounds of Blackness during the 1 year anniversary of the death of George Floyd

Photo by Christopher Mark Juhn for Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Common recalls the polarizing response to Electric Circus and what it was like to wake up with J Dilla making beats in the living room.

Back in 2002, Common fans self-sorted into two factions: those who embraced the slightly psychedelic experimentation of Electric Circus and those who flat out rejected it.

Approaching 20-years since its release, the textures of the time have certainly caught up to the fifth studio album from the Chicago rapper and the project’s reception has considerably warmed. But even with a less-than-flattering initial response to Electric Circus, Com still considers the album to be one of the most significant and meaningful statements of his career.

In a recent interview for Andrew Barber’s new series, Story To Tell, Com opens up about the creation of Electric Circus and the artistic decisions he was made despite the guidance of his categorically prestigious collaborators. “Those were some of the times where Dilla was like ‘You sure you’re gonna up on this beat?’,” the rapper recalls, explaining how sure he was of the direction he was taking with the project. “I was like, ‘Yes, we’re going out here,’” Com says of his defiance during the studio sessions for Electric Circus. “I’m so proud of that album.”

Elsewhere in their chat, Com discusses his relationship with the late J Dilla, which culminated in their shacking up together in Los Angeles towards the end of the producer’s life. “I got to see just him as a person,” the rapper noted, explaining how grateful he was to be living with a producer unanimously celebrated by his contemporaries. “You don’t understand, all of these producers, from Pharrell to Questlove to D’Angelo, they all revered Jay Dee as the god,” Com adds after telling a story about witnessing Pharrell once literally bowing down to Dilla in the studio. “I felt like I was upping everybody.”

Watch Common reflect on the divisive reception to Electric Circus and what it was like to wake up with J Dilla making beats in the living room below. Head over to Coda Collection for the full interview.

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