online listen
saw this on one of the best of the year lists
not my thing, but I gotta give the man props for lyrics
none of that gangsta crap
gotta be the music or delivery that's weak
1.3 for me and a 2.1 from the pros at all music

from the album - Ghetto Dreams

released Dec 20th, 2011

from all music


Common (originally Common Sense) was a highly influential figure in rap's underground during the '90s, keeping the
sophisticated lyrical technique and flowing syncopations of jazz-rap alive in an era when commercial gangsta rap
was threatening to obliterate everything in its path. His literate, intelligent, nimbly performed rhymes and
political consciousness certainly didn't fit the fashions of the moment, but he was able to win a devoted cult
audience. By the late '90s, a substantial underground movement had set about reviving the bohemian sensibility of
alternative rap, and Common finally started to receive wider recognition as a creative force. Not only were his
albums praised by critics, but he was able to sign with a major label that guaranteed him more exposure than ever

Common was born Lonnie Rashied Lynn on the South Side of Chicago, an area not exactly noted for its fertile hip-hop
scene. Nonetheless, he honed his skills to the point where -- performing as Common Sense -- he was able to catch
his first break, winning The Source magazine's Unsigned Hype contest. He debuted in 1992 with the single "Take It
EZ," which appeared on his Combat-released debut album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?; further singles "Breaker 1/9" and
"Soul by the Pound" helped establish his reputation in the hip-hop underground, although some critics complained
about the record's occasional misogynistic undertones. Common Sense subsequently wound up on Ruthless Records for
his 1994 follow-up, Resurrection, which crystallized his reputation as one of the underground's best (and wordiest)
lyricists. The track "I Used to Love H.E.R." attracted substantial notice for its clever allegory about rap's
descent into commercially exploitative sex-and-violence subject matter, and even provoked a short-lived feud with
Ice Cube. Subsequently, Common Sense was sued by a ska band of the same name, and was forced to shorten his own
moniker to Common; he also relocated from Chicago to Brooklyn.

Bumped up to parent label Relativity, Common issued the first album under his new name in 1997. One Day It'll All
Make Sense capitalized on the fledgling resurgence of intelligent hip-hop with several prominent guests, including
Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo, and the Roots' Black Thought. The album was well received in
the press, and Common raised his profile with several notable guest spots over the next couple of years; he
appeared on Pete Rock's Soul Survivor, plus two watermark albums of the new progressive hip-hop movement, Mos Def
and Talib Kweli's Black Star and the Roots' Things Fall Apart. Common also hooked up with indie rap kingpins Rawkus
for a one-off collaboration with Sadat X, "1-9-9-9," which appeared on the label's seminal Soundbombing, Vol. 2

With his name popping up in all the right places, Common landed a major-label deal with MCA, and brought on Roots
drummer ?uestlove as producer for his next project. Like Water for Chocolate was released in early 2000 and turned
into something of a breakthrough success, attracting more attention than any Common album to date (partly because
of MCA's greater promotional resources). Guests this time around included Macy Gray, MC Lyte, Cee-Lo, Mos Def,
D'Angelo, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and Afro-beat star Femi Kuti (on a tribute to his legendary father Fela).
Plus, the singles "The Sixth Sense" and "The Light" (the latter of which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap
Solo Performance) earned considerable airplay. Following that success, Common set the stage for his next record
with an appearance on Mary J. Blige's No More Drama in early 2002. He issued his most personal work to date with
Electric Circus, a sprawling album that polarized fans, in December of that year. Be, a much tighter album that was
produced primarily by Kanye West, followed in May 2005, netting four Grammy nominations. West remained on board for
both Finding Forever (2007) and the lighter Universal Mind Control (2008), though the Neptunes dominated the
latter. For 2011's The Dreamer/The Believer, Common worked exclusively with longtime associate and friend No I.D.

Album Review

On his ninth studio album, Common reunites with old partner and fellow Chicagoan No I.D., which ensures that the
sound will be much different than that of the MC's previous set, the Neptunes-dominated Universal Mind Control.
Indeed, compounds of dusty soul samples and organic instrumentation are in place of candy-coated synthesizers and
pattering hand percussion. That change naturally pushes Common into deeper, more contemplative, and wistful frames
of mind, and he takes an extra step by bookending the album with typically purposeful appearances from Maya Angelou
and his father (the latter of which is absolutely riveting). The best moments are bathed in a warm radiance that
fosters a comforting, uplifting mood -- intensified by hooks from James Fauntleroy II and samples of the
Impressions, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Graham Central Station, and gospel Kenny Loggins -- that recalls
2005's Be. "Gold" is particularly vivid, where he crams a post-birth visit from "three wise men," trips to France
and Sybaris (rhymed with syphilis), and references to Hot Tub Time Machine and "Stan." However, the content isnít
exclusively cerebral, uplifting, and/or surreal. On "Ghetto Dreams," the track that incongruently follows Angelou's
appearance, Common opens with "I wanna bitch that look good and cook good" and elaborates with "buck naked in the
kitchen flippin' pancakes." There's also the caustic "Sweet," where the MC seemingly slips into character to
enhance fiery rhymes with enraged goading. Tracks like those add variety yet come close to polluting the remainder.
That's a no-win situation for him, really; without those tracks, Common would have been accused by some rap fans,
once more, of being too soft.

Track Listing

1. The Dreamer Feat. Maya Angelou
2. Ghetto Dreams Feat. Nas
3. Blue Sky
4. Sweet
5. Gold
6. Lovin' I Lost
7. Raw (How You Like It)
8. Cloth
9. Celebrate
10. Windows
11. The Believer Feat. John Legend
12. Pops' Belief