Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most official album review for this album…any review I do will be the most official review for that album. Anyway, here we do not judge names, bank statements, or tmz appearances. We judge music. Dig that.
Songs are judged on a 0-5 basis (0 being cheeks, 5 being classic), and the judgement is based on the following: lyrics, production, and the cohesiveness of the two. Whether or not the song is good for what it was intended to do, and its according entertainment value. Now, I am going to be very specific with what these numeric values mean in terms of what I am giving them. Here is the scale:
0-1.5 – Amongst the most terrible songs i’ve ever heard
2 – Bad song
2.5 – average song- not good/not awful
3 – pretty good, not mind blowing but good
3.5 – I could ride out to this
4 – Has great replay value
4.5 – Song/Album of the year candidate
5 – Classic hip-hop record
Albums in totality are judged by the same, but including flow of the album and consistency of attributes throughout the album. With that being said…
I have a top 5 list of my favorite rappers/emcees of all time. Common is number 3 on my list. Has he been that good? Short answer, yes. Can I Borrow A Dollar was ahead of its time. Resurrection is a classic. One Day, LWFC, BE…all disputable classics. He has the timeless hiphop record (I Used To Love H.E.R) He has the battle stripe (The Bitch In Yoo) He has successfully transcended hiphop generations. He has successfully reinvented himself while continuing to make good music…He even has the experimental album that only cult fans like (Electric Circus). And for at least 14 years, Common has been an elite emcee and elite album maker. But now it is 2012. Post BE Common rivals post Black Album Jay-Z as the all time great with the most dramatic downslide in my era. Finding Forever was like Be: The outtakes. Universal Mind Control stinks, and many of his fans are in denial because..well… you know how we are with our heroes. I love Com, and it hurts me to be saying this…but he clearly is in the twilight of his career as an emcee who can make great albums, although as a celebrity, he is just hitting his stride. Any way, he is back with his latest offering entitled: “The Dreamer, The Believer” Hmm… Corny, sold, typical conscious rapper album title, but we’ll see…Oh yea…word is No ID produced this entire joint…thats a good look. From where im sitting, No ID is a pioneer to todays backpacker sound, and the least regarded. He deserves some shine, so hopefully he blesses this album.
1. The Dreamer Feat. Maya Angelou – There was a little controversy involving this joint. Appearently, Ms. Angelou never heard Common use the word nigga, aka, Ms. Angelou has never heard a Common album. She was offended that he did so on the song that she was featured on. Clearly he did not change anything. I have much adoration for Maya Angelou so I will just say this, know your co-workers. Now as far as the song goes, the track is smooth. Common rides it well. This is the type of good song that Common is capable of making nowadays. Me likey. 4/5
2. Ghetto Dreams Feat. Nas, aka The GOAT – lol@ this song. Common is such a cornball now. He was really killing the track, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Luckily, Nas came on his trademark intelligent ghetto and made the song listenable…Unfortunately, we have to sit through two verses of Common faking the funk to get to the good part. 3/5
3. Blue Sky – This is another one of those post-BE Common good songs. Lyrically he is surely not taking it back, but he is comfortable over the well produced joint. Me likey 3.5/5
4. So Sweet – lol…Common. Being from Chicago makes you tough just as coming out of the vagina makes you gynecologist. Come around my crib…haha This fool probably lives next door to Gwyneth Paltrow. Whatever the case, I do enjoy the sentiment. The execution is mad shaky though, and his rant sounds like he is doing a bad job auditioning for a role in Boyz In The Hood 2: Ricky’s revenge. L. 3/5
5. Gold – Com got back into his lane on this one. Real smooth…lyrically in pocket. Common has a knack for song making still and I love the fact that he is comfortable with no being the same guy who made ‘Soul By The Pound’ or who spit his verse on ‘Thelonius’ That is who you make good music when you are past your prime…I know of a few rappers who need to take a page out of Common’s book of aging. 3.5/5
6. Lovin’ I Lost – I’m loving this beat…real nice knock on this joint. Nice vocal sample placement. He really did his thing on this one as far as being conceptually driven and creating a feel for the joint. Me likey. 4/5
7. Raw (How You Like It?) – This joint is nasty. No ID has done very well with this album thus far giving Com some joints to work with. Com takes it back to Can I Borrow/Resurrection on this one lol. Like. EXCEPT… “I heard you rap…yea mummy.” sigh… 4/5
8. Cloth – Ok, this song is a snooze fest. Overall, it is an ok song, but its just too boring. 2.5/5
9. Celebrate – This sounds like a College Dropout era Kanye West mixtape song. That’s not speaking to the quality or lack thereof. The song is basic though, and im not really a fan of the hook at all. 2.5/5
10. Windows – The song has a nice concept. This in a rather introspective look at fatherhood. The song is rather boring as the previous two, but this is a little better. 3/5
11. The Believer Feat. John Legend – Im a John Legend fan. Not on this joint though. The song sounds like these lyrics weren’t written to this beat or something. Can’t put my finger on it, but this is an awkward song. 2.5/5
12. Pop’s Belief – Pops always brought his brilliant element to Common albums. His anecdotes are perfect to end Common’s albums and this one does not disappoint. There is not musical aspect to it aside from the beat in the background that seems to be of the ‘Blue Sky’ family tree, but it was a great addition to the album itself.
Conclusion: This was a good album in the context of the fact that this is Common’s ninth album during a career dating back to 1992. Common displayed the ability to still make good music. At the same time, the album became pretty dull toward the middle/end, and he gave us no highlights really. This album was better than I expected, but honestly I did not expect much. Why? Well, because I’m a hater, and that’s what haters do…right?