Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. 100
    While those seeking a quick fix of cheap thrills hip hop will be disappointed, anyone who likes their music lush, multi-layered and lyrical should pick this up without delay.
  2. Although he can be self-righteous, scattered, and grim, a team of truly youthful-minded producers is there to color the gray.
  3. While Talib's Quality and The Roots' Phrenology break new ground for both acts, Electric Circus is clearly the most adventurous of the trio of releases.
  4. 100
    A record of startling breadth. [Feb 2003, p.96]
  5. The Electric Circus turns out to be a place that exists in Hip-hopolis and Rawk City and Bacharachville and DixieLand and Heaven, all at the same time. Holy crap, people, Com did it: he broke on through to the other side.
  6. Common has just gone way, way off the hip-hop map.
  7. This is a brilliant, visionary album and needs rewarding with units - MTV won't have the scoobiest what to do, radio programmers will freak, and hip-hop will, once again, move forward.
  8. 80
    To be filed alongside the Root's recent Phrenology. [Mar 2003, p.95]
  9. 80
    A hip-hop record brimming with soul and artistry. [Jan 2003, p.74]
  10. Electric Circus does suffer from that which ails many contemporary hip-hop albums -- too many guests and a generally lengthy program drag this one down a tad. Nonetheless, Electric Circus is a brave and ruthless statement wrapped in sincerity.
  11. It works... stretching rap into weird new shapes. [Feb 2003, p.97]
  12. Even the psychedelic overreach shows a most uncommon artist at work. [Feb 2003, p.64]
  13. Outfitted in this music, however, Common's pretensions stand up and do jumping jacks.
  14. If Prince had ever successfully come to grips with hip hop, this is what the result might have sounded like.
  15. Electric Circus is a wild, vibrant trip billowing with purple-haze guitars, ethereal choruses and warped scratching.
  16. Like The Roots' new Phrenology, Electric Circus possesses many of the weaknesses associated with ambition: a bloated running time, the faint aroma of pretension, an obligatory spoken-word piece, and songs that outlast their welcome.
  17. So, is this genius or is this madness? As enjoyable as it is on occasion, I’m inclined to side with the latter.
  18. Com comes off as alternately uncomfortable and downright lazy, half-speaking-- or worse, singing-- new-age revelations to the masses.
  19. 60
    The storytelling here isn't as sharp as on Common's previous albums. [Feb 2003, p.100]
  20. Beautifully engineered, Circus sounds chocolaty and recombinant even when it doth protest the Enlightened Guy angle too much.
  21. One problem: Common is an MC, not a musician. Which makes it difficult for him to achieve his lofty goals. Mostly he fails.
  22. 40
    Its attempts at a more ethereal sound crash up against Common's cumbersome intellectualizing. [#13, p.91]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Aug 18, 2014
    Electric Circus is a flawed, yet beautiful, one-of-a-kind album. It's hard to top Common's creativity, artistic touch, and musicality on this record. ~ 8.2/10

    Best track: "Come Close" (feat. Mary J. Blige): It's one of the more traditional hip hop songs on the album, but it's emotional and heartfelt.

    Other notable tracks: "I Got A Right Ta", "I Am Music" & "Jimi Was A Rock Star"
    Full Review »
  2. ScottyS
    Aug 1, 2006
    Dude this album is hot to me better than BE. So what if he has too many guests Common is trying to shar eto us other artist that are great and we never heard of like Laetita Sadier of Stereolab, Bilal,Dart Chillz, and Omar Full Review »
  3. TylerH
    Jan 22, 2006
    Genius, Jimmy P. knows what hes talking about. Star 69, come close, between me you and liberation. Common is a lyrical genius and this album is a classic. Im woundering how ne one thought it was better than "Be" i mean "Be" was good but just not up to commons standards. Full Review »