The Score: Common, "The Dreamer/The Believer"

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 12:15PM

Written by J. Bachelor

Buy Now
  • The Dreamer/The Believer
  • Common
  • December 20, 2011
Sputnik Music 4/5
The Independent 5/5
Planet Ill 4/5
Rap Genius 4/5
All Hip Hop 9/10

Closing out the 2011 year in hip-hop is Chicago rapper Common with his latest album, titled The Dreamer/The Believer.

The former G.O.O.D. Music MC is hoping to recapture the spirit of his critically-acclaimed releases Be and Finding Forever after his last project, Universal Mind Control was met with less- than-stellar reviews.

Yes, 2011 has been one hell of a year. I mean, two The Weeknd mixtapes and new Thrice? C'mon. But hey, the year's not over yet. Perhaps it would be inconvenient for some when they realize that one of Chicago's most prominent hip-hop solo artists, Common, has returned with his follow-up to 2008's commercialized club-hop s**t-fest Universal Mind Control. Granted, some may only be observing the record to see "how low this n*gga can go", or maybe they heard the single "Blue Sky" over the radio, but in any case, be prepared to change your year-end lists for Common's The Dreamer/The Believer, a strong contender for "mainstream hip hop album of the year".(Sputnik Music)

Common kept the cameos tight this go round, enlisting crooner John Legend and Nas to assist the project.

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.(Purple Revolver)

No ID crafted the magic behind The Dreamer as Common hand picked Kanye's mentor to help bring the project to life.

Three years on from Universal Mind Control, Common reverts back from that album's Neptunes-produced techno grooves to a more old-school hip-hop style, courtesy of his long-time friend (and Kanye West's mentor) No ID, with whom he last worked on 1997's One Day It'll All Make Sense.(The Independent)

Earlier this year, Com cited "Ghetto Dreams" partner Nas as his favorite rapper.

"I would say Nas, that's my favorite rapper. It's tough, because [Jay-Z] is one of the greatest and many can argue," he said in an interview. "But Nas is so poetic with it and I feel like his lyrics, you can write them down on paper and they will last for time. It would be like literature that we read." (MSNBC)

Although some critics believe that the Chi-town spitter has lost his lyrical edge, The Dreamer/The Believer  is being hailed as one of Common's most inspired releases.

In short, Common won. So in addition to getting busy on the acting tip in AMC's Hell On Wheels, Common may very well have dropped one of the top five albums of the year. Common's an MC that more up and coming MCs should study. He's not an artist who has had to pander to mainstream audiences and dumb his art down in order to receive recognition. He has put the work in over time to perfect his craft to a point that the product can't be ignored and, though there have been some minor missteps, few can real argue against the influence and relevance of Common in the rap game now and in the long term. Respect due.(Front Free)
The Dreamer The Believer finds Common trying to reconnect with his fans after the abysmal Universal Mind Control. He shows brief moments of lyrical slippage but nothing major. The album does just enough to get him right, maybe get him in the club once or twice and return him to a viable form.(Planet Ill)

Purchase The Dreamer/The Believer here.

Preview the album below:

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