Review: Common regains soulful nature on new album

Dec. 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

REVIEW BY JONATHAN LANDRUM JR. / Associated Press

Even though Common is one of hip-hop’s premier lyricists, the socially conscious rapper fell short with his 2008 “techno-inspired” album, “Universal Mind Control.”

‘The Dreamer, The Believer’

Common (Warner Bros.)

But the Chicago-bred rapper effectively regains his soulful nature on “The Dreamer, The Believer.” The rapper digs deep with his clever rhymes with the aid of his childhood friend, No I.D., who produced the entire 12-track album.

Common’s ninth album starts off with the compelling intro “The Dreamer,” featuring legendary writer Maya Angelou. The two-time Grammy-winner kicks off the opening track with a jovial vibe, rapping about the rise of his career, and Angelou caps off the song with an inspirational poem.

As usual, Common’s lyrics have depth and are insightful throughout the album. He has a positive tone while talking about achieving his own aspirations on “Blue Sky,” and shows his appreciation for life on “Celebrate,” a good-natured track that seems fitting for a family cookout or neighborhood block party.

But while Common provides some feel-good jams, he unveils the grittier side of himself on “Ghetto Dreams,” featuring Nas. He also offers his thoughts on overcoming the struggle of being raised in the inner city on the track “The Believer” with John Legend.

Common also raps about the maturation of love on “Cloth,” and the emotionally tough stages of a breakup on “Lovin’ I Lost,” with a sample from The Impressions’ 1968 song, “I Loved and Lost.”

Similar to Common’s previous albums such as “Be” and “Finding Forever,” his father again shares his perspective on life through spoken word on the piano-driven outro, “Pop’s Belief.”

In all, the combination of Common and No I.D. make “The Dreamer, The Believer” work. The rapper finds balance with his complex lyrics and supplies a clear message that all dreams can be achieved with an unwavering belief system in yourself.
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Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrlandrum31.

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