Music Review: Common – The Dreamer, The Believer


Despite earning a reputation as one of the most respected lyricists in hip-hop, Common is still in a sense underrated. Any time there is a top emcee list, his name doesn’t always ring a bell with many people, myself included. I enjoy his music, but for whatever reason, I don’t place him in a higher echelon than I should. That being said, his catalogue is very solid with only one real dud in Universal Mind Control (Electric Circus can also be considered coaster music depending on who you ask). So here he is with his ninth offering in The Dreamer The Believer, proving once again that Lonnie Lynn Jr. should start being considered as one of the greatest rappers to ever hold the microphone.

This album finds Common teaming up with fellow Chicago native No I.D. to deliver a great album that is sure to draw up comparisons to his reputable Resurrection and Be LPs. With one producer holding down the entire project, The Dreamer is very cohesive. No I.D. constructs a consistent sound that is one of the best projects musically this year. The production is A grade quality that is sure to please even the most critical of “purist” hip hop fans.

After what seemed to be his attempt for mainstream acceptance with Universal Mind Control, Common goes back to his hip hop roots and doesn’t miss a step. “Ghetto Dreams” has him sparring with Nas over a neck snapping, boom bap instrumental that demonstrates their lyrical prowess. Common borders the line of disrespect on “Sweet” as he gets critical of today’s group of rappers that makes one wonder who exactly is he going after. Anyone who has been following his career knows that when provoked, he can create a diss track with the best of them (a la “The B**** In Yoo”)

The strongest characteristic Common possesses as a emcee is the ability to convey his conscious side without it sounding corny. He’ll throw a track or two on his albums to go all in and body the beat, but its his social commentary that keeps the fans around. The soulfulness in his music can most certainly be felt throughout his discography and he brings it back on here with songs such as the uplifting “Blue Sky”, and “Gold”. The Maya Angelou feature in “The Dreamer” does a good job of opening up the album and has her dropping food for thought towards the end of the song.

As his father closes the album with “Pops Belief” you are left with one of the strongest rap albums this year. Sonically, its as sharp as anything you will hear. He is certainly one of the best ghetto poets the game has seen. If there is something to be nitpicky about, there can be a case made that Common maybe could have been a little better with the rhyming. The bars are serviceable, and it doesn’t interfere with the listening experience. So in the past 5 or so years, Com has dropped Be, Finding Forever, and The Dreamer The Believer. Many rappers would love to have dropped this much quality of work within a short time frame. Common has been in the game for 20 years. He has put in the work necessary to start being considered elite. He’s been consistent for too long to just be known as another good emcee.

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