It’s been a great decade for Lonnie Lyn AKA ‘Common’, the artist formerly known as ‘Common Sense’… hell it’s been a great career. From telling one of hip hop’s greatest stories in I Used To Love H.E.R., to going from the underground to the mainstream with the release of Like Water For Chocolate, this rapper has become even more common, going from being one of hip hop’s cult icons to becoming one of its biggest stars. The later 2000s saw two back-to-back Kanye West produced classics in the form of one of rap’s greatest albums Be, and further timeless greats on Finding Forever. Now off the pages of an awesome autobiography One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Com’ releases more ‘Forever Music’ with The Dreamer, The Believer.
This is Common’s first album in three years. Some critics gave Common’s last experimental album (Universal Mind Control) the ‘Electric Circus’ treatment. In reality however, both these envelope-pushing albums were great. Still, Common’s inspirational, feel-good spiritual rap is what fans like the best, and believe that it’s back in another classic album beyond your wildest dreams. Spurred by the scorching, hot, old-school to the artwork (look up the young Nas and Common single cover) summer single Ghetto Dreams, this album is big and is the legendary makings of this rap icon’s lasting legacy.
“Pretty with her eyes low, bunny buy a Bible/This the type of bitch that BIG said he would die for/It’s type that I’d ride or stay alive for/Tatts on her back, looking all tribal/She know shoes like she know survival/Well put together, she weathers the storm/Seen her brother die so forever she strong/Hear Beyonce’s song and she gotta perform/Whether f$%&#*^ or fighting: we getting it on!” Common raps with a new honed style, swagger and confidence. Nas counters with some classic rhymes of his own, spitting like his ‘Nasty’ days; “But I’m still single, looking for Cleopatra/African Queen, yo look at me, I’m a bachelor/Y’all niggas in trouble, keep your girls behind closed doors/Cross your fingers, be happy I haven’t chose yours/She loves glamour bought her Vera Wang sandals/Valentino bags is my etiquette/My man is half hood, half class/Photographers, cameras caught us out there/The spotlight, I hope she can handle”. This long awaited collaboration is set with chemistry and charisma. It’s no wonder the two will be collaborating for a big album (‘Nas.Com’) that we can’t wait for next year.
Still, back to the now and on this classic album Common begins things with The Dreamer featuring the perfect prose of prolific poet Maya Angelou. It’s clear to hear that Common’s writing and rapping has got even better from its already legendary status as Common gets creative rhyming; “Ferrari testers, Armani dressers/Exquisite thick b$%#&*$ that body bless us/Rest assured, we getting festive in Miami now/Told my n$%# ‘Ye I’m about to win the Grammys now/Getting Johnny Cash old white folks know me now/Standing close to the mic like I’m Kobe now”. Common’s confidence swaggers further on the clear single Blue Sky, as he get’s even more creative “Aston Martin king, Luther with dreams/The young Denzel the way I move through scenes/I’m like a preacher that once was a fiend/A story of change that came with wings/Pretty as the skyline, the sky is my eye line/Son of the most so from up high I shine/Suited in Prada, stay mellow like LaLa”
More Common Sense and his wonderful wordplay take his competition to school on the perfect insult Sweet. Then with more sickly rhymes Common strikes Gold, before the lyrical lament of Lovin’ I Lost. With iconic producer No I.D. collaborating throughout this classic, Common channels raps greats like Rakim and KRS-One. He spits fresh on Raw (How You Like It), before hitting us with a big three of the opposition cloaking Cloth, the victorious Celebrate and the opening Window.
Still, this album really hits its highest note with its last one. As Common pitches for a collaboration with fellow G.O.O.D. Music great John Legend, ‘The Believer’, book-ends the The Dreamer, The Believer album as well as The Dreamer opener does. As Legend sings “They will talk about us/Like they talked about the kings before us”, rap and soul’s best further their legacy. Of course no Common album would be complete without some of ‘Pop’s Raps’ and of course no recent Common album would be complete without a platinum plaque and classic accreditation, which this CD is certain to garner along with the awards. The best hip hop has to offer is back with one of his greatest yet. You can believe in ‘H.E.R.’ once again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.