Mention Seattle to a hip-hop head, and one is likely to think of pop-rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot as well as the various gangsta rappers who have come out of Seattle or nearby Tacoma, WA. But Common Market -- a Seattle-based hip-hop duo consisting of rapper RA Scion and producer/DJ Sabzi -- doesn't sound anything like either of the above. Instead, this 2005 release favors alternative rap with a conscious outlook -- conscious as in Blackalicious, Common (the Chicago MC who used to go by Common Sense), Dilated Peoples, Pete Miser, and the Roots, conscious as in Gang Starr, Boogie Down Productions, and Blastmaster KRS-One. When Scion busts rhymes that are both spiritual and sociopolitical, it is clear that he has spent a lot of time savoring BDP classics like "My Philosophy" and "You Must Learn." But Scion isn't as angry as KRS, let alone Public Enemy or Paris -- and even though Common Market is clearly a part of alterna-rap, this CD doesn't have the quirkiness and eccentricity that some alterna-rappers are known for (De la Soul, the Pharcyde, Digable Planets, and A Tribe Called Quest, for example). The conscious vibe is present throughout the album, which is devoid of the thuggishness and gangsta-isms that permeated so much hip-hop (both Northern and Southern, both East Coast and West Coast) in 2005. Is Common Market groundbreaking by mid-2000s standards? No, but regardless, this is a quality album. Common Market provides respectable alterna-rap that -- although not overly original -- is worth checking out if one fancies intellectual MCs like KRS, Common, Gang Starr, and Blackalicious.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson