Common’s Electric Circus album is seen by some as the Chicago MC at his most weird, by others as him at his most open and experimental. I’d side with the latter. The album came after Like Water For Chocolate, his most commercially successful album to date at the time. Just when it seemed like he was about to cross over into the mainstream (several years early), the ambition of Electric Circus left many a bit lost. Even more than a decade in retrospect it is still one of his most divisive albums amongst fans.
In mid-2007, ?uestlove, the album’s executive producer, leaked four unreleased Electric Circus demos on his MySpace blog. All instrumental, The Roots’ drummer and music nerd details the backstory for each one, including “Show Fo Ro (Step Into The Ro)” and how it relates to a studio visit by Rosario Dawson:
“ahhh women. without em there would be no muse. there is nothing like a beautiful woman in a studio to show off your gifts. the greatest story ive ever heard was Marvin Gaye freestyling his political anthem “(Come On People) Let’s Get It On” into the version we now know and love (about sex) once he laid eyes on his then 17 year old future wife Jan (legend has it that after struggling with the vocals for days he was about to give up when producer Ed Townsend’s lady friend and her daughter (jan) came by to visit Ed….Marv was so taken aback by Jan’s beauty he started showing off –much to the shock and chagrin of Ed who was seconds away from “the hell are you doing?” button stopping–but of course all the struggle Marv had with the political version of “Lets Get It On” went out the window once he had inspiration to sing to….and the very version we know now is said to be a one take freestyle.—well sometimes this method could work and or backfire—dangleo would freeze up the music if a girl came by the studio, for him the final product was a better presentation than “the getting there” part. it takes a confident person to let you see all the flaws the recording process takes.
Com on the other hand thrived on female energy to get our juices flowing. So it was often encouraged for me to always invite my friends down to hang just to get some new energy. one said friend at the time was rosario dawson. she was at the screening and afterparty for her josie and the pussycats project and i told her to come by since she was already in the area. this of course was visual comedy for everyone involved—suddenly mofos are tucking in shirts, and throwing away 10 day old food on the counter, cleaning dirty fingernails (jokes)—but most importantly we were playing.”
Out of the four leaked tracks, this has always been the favorite. Simple and pure, it’s addicting.