'The Dreamer/The Believer' Full Album Review
Since he came on the scene in 1992 with Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Common's been one of the few emcees in hip hop who's remained consistent through it all. He's made the transition from underground rhyme crusader to mainstream marauder, and as he approaches the decade mark in his music career, Com shows that despite his foray into film and other endeavors, he's still has the skills many in the rap world lack. In his first album since 2008's Universal Mind Control, Common links up once again with his longtime friend and collaborator No I.D. for his ninth album, The Dreamer/The Believer, one that's already receiving rave reviews and I'm sure the words instant classic are soon to follow. After attending Common's live album listening party in Los Angeles last night, check out my track-by-track review of each song.
1. The Dreamer (ft. Maya Angelou)
Common blessed the crowd as he performed the first song from the album. Full of energy, along with an awesome beat, Com goes all in, a rare feat for intro tracks in this day and age. Plus, you gotta love the line, "A legend like John/ Lennon I'm a dreamer/ tried to f*** the world/ she only let me finger," am I right? Maya Angelou also drops one of her emphatic poems at the end to round things out.
2. Ghetto Dreams (ft. Nas)
Arguably two of the most prolific names in hip hop came together for the song and the rapport between them is flawless as they spit about the many things your everyday person in the ghetto would wish for, with one thing in particular. Not to be outdone, No I.D. shows his production artistry as he samples The Parliaments' Let's Make It Last.
3. Blue Sky
As stated by the man himself, this song is all about reaching for your dreams and goals, something fans have come to expect from the emcee.
Common gets ferocious on the mic as the veteran lyricist calls out virtually every sub par rapper in the game with this wake up call of a single. He puts it perfectly when he says, "The game needs direction/ I'm here to map it."
Common mentioned to the crowd of fans that this song was your typical No I.D. and Common collab: nothing more than just beats and rhymes (both of which are dope), the very essence of hip hop.
6. Lovin' I Lost
This is not your typical love song as Common reminisces of past loves that he... you guessed it, lost. The Curtis Mayfield sample (I Loved and I Lost) used adds a good touch of soul to this ode to Com's former lovers.
7. Raw (How You Like It)
Common went back to 87 St. (it's a Chi-town thing) with this one. Raw rhymes and a sick beat makes this one a must listen. Favorite line: "She said, 'You rap?'/ Yea mummy/ I'm Tutankhamun kicking it, spending this rap money."
This song's premise follows the thought of Common and a woman being cut from the same cloth. The rapper comes sincere as he talks about finding that right one.
Common celebrates like it's 1999 in this festive track that has a sweet Kenny Loggins sample (Celebrate Me Home). Who wouldn't want to celebrate when you and your friends came up from nothing to something?
Ever heard that saying, "your eyes are the windows to your soul?" Well, Common has and used that as the basis for this tranquil track.
11. The Believer (ft. John Legend)
Common's one of the few artists that can boast successful inspirational songs and this one, featuring John Legend, is as good as any right now. As he put it, it was an honor for him to perform this at the White House earlier this year (why was there controversy?) as it was an honor for fans to hear this type of music.
12. Pop's Belief
It's not a Common album without his pops dropping some knowledge, which he does so well over some serene piano chords.
The Dreamer/The Believer is in stores December 20.