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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

CD Review: Common

The Dreamer/The Believer
Warner Bros. Records

Rating: 3

Common’s The Dreamer/The Believer is an odd album. Much of it appears as if Common does not want to get left behind in the world of hip-hop. And his way of doing that is by saying grandstanding lyrics such as “my name is synonymous with prominence.”

In part of the grandstanding of this album, coming strongest in track four titled “Sweet,” Common seeks to pick a fight with Drake. He laments over hip-hop becoming soft and addresses the younger up-and-comers of hip-hop with such lines as, “You get in my presence you gon’ feel like a little hoe.” It’s hard to question Common’s talent as a lyricist (there are a number of clever and witty lines in his latest album), but his aching need to be relevant is a problem.

I always presumed Common to be the hip-hop artist in the corner doing his own thing, an artist who deliberately didn’t need or want the same type of success or mainstream appeal as Kanye or Jay-Z. Unfortunately, with this album Common wants to prove otherwise. He wants to remind listeners that he’s to “hip-hop what Obama is to politics,” that “some people [are] missing creativity, but it begins and ends with me.” Most of the time the album doesn’t feel humble or introspective, as regularly associated with Common. In fact, it feels petty.

Despite what Common says in the lyrical content, the album is less what he is than what he was. That doesn’t mean that the album is terrible — it isn’t. The Dreamer/The Believer just doesn’t have a whole lot to latch on to. By the time the best song on the album comes in (track 11, titled “The Believer”) with some great help from John Legend, it’s too little, too late.

Give these tracks a listen: “Sweet,” “The Believer”
For Fans Of: Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Kid Cudi

— Rudy Sanchez


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