OK, we’re back with another album review and this time around it’s Common’s new album The Dreamer, The Believer. I’ve been anticipating this album for a while being a long time fan. I’m not gonna lie, I completely skipped on Common’s last album Universal Mind Control because I wasn’t feeling the “electro” vibe from Common to be completely honest. However his two efforts previous to that (Be, and Finding Forever) were pretty good and were considered by Source Magazine as “almost classic” albums so in my mind The Dreamer, The Believer is the follow up to those and I’ll just pretend Universal Mind Control never happened. One of the things that really excited me when I heard news of The Dreamer, The Believer release is the fact that it was produced solely by No I.D, the mentor of Kanye West and one of Hip-Hop’s greatest producers if not the greatest. So my expectations and are pretty high and with that said, let’s get into it.
1. Blue Sky– Most of us know this song already and obviously it’s a great song. I might even go as far as saying its one of Common’s best songs of his last three albums. Very good way to start off of course. I really feel Kanye West’s influence on hip-hop in a major way now days because I don’t think anyone was making songs like this until My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was released. Also, Kanye’s mentor No I.D, who is probably just as responsible for his sound as anyone else is involved in this album so that is to be expected I guess.
2. Lovin I Lost– Noteworthy production for sure. You’ve got to love this beat. Common is what he is on this track, if that makes any since. Basically if you’re familiar with Common then you won’t be blown away by his verses on this track in particular. I’m on the fence with this one because I really dig the production but the song as a whole isn’t as spectacular as the beat makes me feel like it should be.
3. Gold– I like the message of this track and when you’re listening to Common you’re going to get a lot more of that than hits. So no I’m not blown away but I dig it.
4. Sweet– Ok so Common already let the world know that this song is directed at the homie Drake. I’ll say this about the song itself, it woke me up. Common is a rapper you vibe with, he makes mood music. When I’m in Marcus Garvey mood or Nelson Mandela mood, Common is one of my go-to guys but when I’m in my “crotch grabbing, ether spitting, I don’t give a f@#k mood” I’m probably gonna throw on some old B.I.G so I love it when Common gives me some of that angry, ignorant, and aggressive rap that we all love once in a while. Now as far as the battle side of it we all know Common can do this based on his other infamous battle track “The Bitch In Yoo” directed at Ice Cube. This is not on that level but it’s still fun to listen to. Common aims directly at Drake’s soft spot which is probably his whole body but most specifically how “sweet” he is by being a rapper/singer and full time lover boy who sometimes dabbles in tough talk. Obviously Common and many other veterans of rap are just about sick of it and the backlash is reaching an all time high. Make sure you take a listen to this one if you’re interested in this beef at all or hearing Common get old school snappy with Drake.
5. The Dreamer feat. Maya Angelou– How ironic is it to follow a profanity laden, aggressive track with a song so spiritual and positive? However, this is a great song and it definitely hit my favorite list pretty quickly. The production is fantastic which is no suprise and it has a great breakdown at the three minute mark that introduces the legendary Maya Angelou. This was very well done and I continue to be amazed by how hip-hop has grown when it comes to the features that you see these days. From Sade, to Stevie Wonder, to Maya Angelou. Its pretty amazing.
6. Ghetto Dreams feat. Nas– I can dig this track despite the fact that it’s somewhat typical Common like tracks 2 and 3. The difference is Common’s flow is a lot more catchy, the production makes you bounce a little more and Nas stops by and spits some piff. I’m down with this one for sure.
7. Raw (How You Like It)– I’m really digging this track. You have to like how Common manipulates the beat with his flow. Plus he drops some ignorant bars which you don’t get from Common a lot but like Lauren Hill said back in her Fugeez days that’s what keeps people listening, so sometimes you have to drop some of that stuff in.
8. Cloth– This is one of those intelligent songs typical of Common but I don’t wanna keep saying it as if it’s a bad thing. Common is still good at the type of music he’s always been good at and he does a good job of keeping it fresh for each new generation. So its really just the product of a long career of good music. A very uplifting song here.
9. Celebrate– I’m not down with this joint too much but its not bad. The beat is a definite highlight and Common’s flow is airtight. Really its just the hook that throws me off. If I could mute that part this would be a banger for me.
10. Windows– When this first came on I got excited about what may be on the way and I feel like I got a treat. The production is amazing once again so Common’s flow has the perfect backdrop as he tells us his story. Instant favorite
11. The Believer feat. John Legend– First of all, I’m glad to hear from John Legend, its been a while for me. Secondly, straight banger no doubt. I love to hear rap songs that give you goosebumps. Common is one of the few guys capable of that and I’m glad to see him deliver in such a way.
12. Pops Belief– As usual the album ends with words from Pops. No music just wise words.
OK, so when it’s all said and done this about as good as you can ask for in my opinion. I think The Dreamer, The Believer is better than both Be and Finding Forever which to me are Common’s best album’s of the last ten years and I think that says a lot. The production of course is top notch but when you have a guy like No I.D producing every track that’s the result you expect. As far as the rhyming I feel like Common brings it as good if not a little better as he ever has. They’re is a couple songs particularly tracks 2 and 3 that will seem typical to the long time Common fan but at the end of the day I feel like Common stayed true to what you can usually expect while maintaining a modern sound that competes with what we hear today. The subject matter was mostly positive and uplifting and the album had an overall good feeling which was pretty uniform throughout. I think that’s what happens when you work with one producer and the focus is to create a very particular sound. All in all I think this deserves an 9 out of 10 and I would recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a good hip-hop record, trust me it will be good money spent.