Common – The Dreamer, The Believer review

Posted on 15 December 2011
By Matt Barden
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Common is back with his 9th studio album, The Dreamer, The Believer. The Chi town emcee has been dropping records since ’92 and in that time the landscape of rap has drastically changed.

But on The Dreamer Common takes us back to the basics of classic hip hop; bumping beats and lyrical wizardry.

Production is handled masterfully by long time collaborator No I.D. Whether it’s loops from vintage soul cuts or 90s era boom beats, the Godfather of Chicago rap doesn’t fail to deliver.

Features are few and far between. John Legend pops up on The Believer to drop a gospel hook and Nas lays down a verse on Ghetto Dreams, making the track an instant classic with one of the dopest combinations in hip hop.

But Common has enough to say to not need an album jammed with cameos. On Lovin’ I Lost he spits about lost love with a maturity and experience that young rappers just don’t have, and No I.D. takes it to the next level with a Curtis Mayfield sample.

Common still has the sexy/sensitive side nailed down, particularly on Cloth and Windows.

On The Dreamer he brings a message of positivity that fans of Common’s back catalogue will be familiar with, and sums the whole album up in one line, ‘Maybe I’m a hopeless Hip Hop romantic / Maybe I’m a dreamer.’

Poet and author Maya Angelou recites an original poem at the end of the song, reliving Lonnie’s conscious rap days.

But the album is not all social commentary and sensitive rap. Common unleashes on Sweet and sends a timely reminder that he still has the ability to tear disrespectful young ones a new one.

The lyrics, which have been interpreted as a Drake diss, take aim at sweet and soft styled rapper/singers in the game.

The album is strong throughout, and the tracks have a nice mix of old school and the contemporary. Lyrically Common is poignant and clever as usual and No I.D. has outdone himself on the decks, proving once again he is one of hip hop’s premiere producers.

With no dud tracks The Dreamer, The Believer might be late in the year but should definitely be considered as one of 2011’s best hip hop albums.