Ever since Common Sense came on the scene in 1992 with his debut album “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, the Chi-town MC has been anything but common in the hiphop world. Not many artists who entered the game in hiphop’s perceived golden era 1991-96, are still release high quality studio albums. Like ATL’s Outkast; Common has never been afraid to get out of his comfort zone and go left when everyone was going right. However with all the acclaim Common has received from arguable classics 1994 “Ressurection”, 2000 “Like Water For Chocolate”, and 2005’s “Be” Album, Common has had his low points in the execution of his left field album creations, 2008’s “Universal Mind Control” and “Electric Circus”. Now on his 9th studio Album “The Dreamer, The Believer”, Common has gone back to his roots, working with one of his old collaborators, Kanye West and mentor producer NO ID. The veteran producer NO ID who also previously produced a bulk of Commons earlier work, returns with the chemistry that made him and Common’s earlier work fan’s favorites.
Right From the Opening track “The Dreamer”, Common shows why he is one of Hip Hops most Lyrically inclined artist. On the track Common raps:
“Walking on water, building my faith up/ N****s with no heart, I’m the pace maker/ Get the beat from No I, feel the pulse of the Chi/ Survival of the fit with hope in they eye/ Taking notes from the sky to fly above understanding/ They notes from the most high, so I gotta land them/ Career ain’t random, make anthems, streets chant them/ Rock roles like a phantom/ Mad hoes like they throwing tantrums/ I tell them I need space like Richard Branson/ Dancing, with wolves and stars getting full at bars/And then pass out like a pamphlet/ Never taking Grants for granted/ It’s Common, but I’m high above standard/ Fly nigga, keep my feet planted/ To rock the planet, I don’t stop for panic/ Maybe I’m a hopeless hip-hop romantic I’m a dreamer”
The Track ends with a reflective and beautiful poem from Maya Angelou speaking on the journey of different nationalities coming to America with nothing but a dream. The album keeps the momentum going with the bass pounding No Id Production on Ghetto Dreams Featuring fellow veteran great Nas. The first 3rd of the album rounds out with the spacey sounding Blue Sky and controversial gritty track “Sweet”.
Throughout the course of the 11th track offering Common touches on subjects ranging from, the uplifting of the human spirit to the struggle, to past relationships. Packed with wordplay Common continues to puts his ability on display with a relatable night on the town storytelling track “RAW”, Common raps:
“We in this joint like Bob Marley and The Wailers/ She already wanna pick, bitch don’t be so over zealous/ Go to the bar to get around like a propeller/ The bar maid’s name is Stella/ I’m so appalled like McCartney that you would card me/ Am I really mad? Hardly, I’m here to party”
The Album closes out with a banger, “The Believer” Featuring John Legend on the Hook. This Track alone is the epitome of what much of Common’s career has been about, using his top-notch lyricism and creativity to narrate his life and the struggle. On the final song Common raps:
“Hustles in my chest, no hustle no progress/ Extremities of life and it’s process/ Birth of a son, death of another/ With love I can rest both mothers/ And told ‘em, who’s in control is the one thats above us/ I walk where money talks and love stutters/ Body language of a nation going through changes/ The young become dangerous, pain gets spent into anger/ Anger gets sent through the chamber/ It’s tough when your own look like strangers/ We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers/ If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us?/ Look at the picture, hard not to blame us/ But time forgives in the Chi where the young die often/ Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them?/ Is it what we talking we really ain’t walking?”
It almost seems as if the last decade of Commons career has had similar patterns. He will come with a high quality album and the people cheer him, then he has a left field more so experimental type album, i.e., electric circus, Universal Mind Control, and people ask? What happen to Common? Did he go overboard? Well that’s for the fans to judge, but all we know this time around is Common’s back in the zone that made him your favorite rappers, favorite rapper.
In a world where there’s financial turmoil everywhere, unemployment at its highest level in decades, work is scarce, America is in massive debt, families are struggling, and black communities in particular feeling even more of the brunt it’s quite refreshing to listen to an album that speaks on having a greater vision then the state we are in today as a society. For that I applaud Common, A true MC.
Score: “The Dreamer, The Believer” (Released Dec 2011)
Bars: XL Beats: XL Music: XL Report Card: B