Common, The Dreamer/The Believer
SCROLL TO READ
He's Back on Top
Written by Jeremy Weeden
Hip-hop veteran Common is back with his ninth studio album, The Dreamer/The Believer. After 2008’s Grammy-nominated album Universal Mind Control failed to appeal to the general public, one could not blame Common if he decided to focus on his other successful career as an actor, and leave music behind. Despite appearances in multiple movies and currently appearing on the hit TV series Hell On Wheels, Common makes it known that hip-hop is his first love by dropping the carefully crafted masterpiece, The Dreamer/The Believer.
Since his first album in 1992, Common has been one of the most consistent and multifaceted artists in the rap industry. On his debut, Can I Borrow A Dollar?, most of the production on the album was from a young producer by the name of Immenslope (a.k.a. No I.D.)—who would later become the highly successful producer and mentor to Kanye West.
Two years later, Common released his second album, the classic Resurrection, on which No I.D. would again produce the majority of the songs, including the controversy spawning classic “I Used To Love H.E.R.” The song was revered among hip-hop fans for its story about a man watching the woman he loved being used and disrespected by others. The song was a metaphor for the different directions in which hip-hop was going and the ways in which Common felt it was being commercialized.
The following year, Common released his third collaboration with No I.D., One Day It’ll All Make Sense, an album that was inspired by the birth of his daughter. This would prove to be the two’s last collaboration together. After this, Common and No I.D. went their separate ways with Common moving to MCA Records and working with the late J Dilla on perhaps his most acclaimed album, Like Water For Chocolate, and the experimental album Electric Circus. He would later team up with Kanye West to release his most commercially successful albums, Be and Finding Forever. Now, in 2012, Common is back together with No I.D. to deliver his best album in years.
The Dreamer/The Believer delivers the conscious thought and lyrical excellence that is expected of Common, but he also raps with a passion and hunger that he has not showed over the past few albums, including the highly successful Be. The album begins nicely with “The Dreamer” feat. Maya Angelou, in which Common raps about the many facets of dreaming to do bigger things. With hot lyrics from Common like “Getting that Johnny Cash/ Old white folks know me now,” the soulful, in your face production from No I.D., punctuated with the wise words of Maya Angelou closing it out, truly make this a standout track. The album only gets better from here. The next track finds Common linking up with hip-hop legend Nas over a classic boom-bap rap track. The track “Sweet” finds Common dissing rapper’s like Drake who sing and who he feels are not true to hip-hop. “Blue Sky” samples “Mr. Blue Sky” from Electric Light Orchestra and Common’s assertive raps over No I.D’s soulful track make this easily one of the best songs on the album. The fact that the production on The Dreamer/The Believer is handled exclusively by No I.D. gives the album cohesiveness that lasts from the first track to the last and adds to the general excellence of the album.
Overall, Common’s The Dreamer/The Believer shows that Common still has it after 20 years in the music industry. While it has been far too long since he and No I.D. last worked together, it sounds like they have not lost a step, despite spending 15 years apart. The Dreamer/The Believer is a reminder that Common is still one of the elite MCs in hip-hop and shows there is still a place for knowledge and positivity in rap music.
For more info go to: