The Auditorium, Vol. 1

The Auditorium, Vol. 1

Having previously partnered with some of hip-hop’s most iconic producers, not the least of whom being J Dilla, Common built a career on securing superb beats to suit his agile rhymes. While many rappers of his generation hopped from trend to trend, repeat and reliable collaboration proved core to his discography, with several of the same studio figures from his early albums now fixtures in his circle decades later. It’s the native Chicagoan’s characteristic consistency, perhaps, that makes The Auditorium, Vol. 1 such a momentous album event. A hip-hop artist indisputably worthy of the word “legend,” Pete Rock comes to this joint effort with the rare distinction of both defining and embodying Golden Era greatness. Though relatively selective about who he deems dope enough to form a duo with since the C.L. Smooth days, the Bronx-born producer generated goodwill and critical respect for his 2010s efforts opposite his city’s Skyzoo and Smoke DZA. As such, he makes a formidable complement for Common, evident from the jump on the exquisite intro “Dreamin’.” His timeless instrumentals conjure certain nostalgic tendencies from the MC, his verses on “We’re on Our Way” and “This Man” laden with old-school references and lyrical memorabilia. From the jazzy swing of “Everything’s So Grand” to the enlightened gospel groove of “A GOD (There Is),” the pair deliver on the promise of their premise, delivering theatrical thrills befitting their skills. And not that an album of this caliber requires special rapper guests, but Posdnuos of De La Soul is a naturally welcome addition to “When the Sun Shines Again.” Furthermore, Rock lays down some refreshing bars of his own on “All Kind of Ideas,” thus providing Common with a worthy foil on the mic as well as off and increasing anticipation for a presumed second volume.

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