Leading up to its release, I was one of many who believed that Common’s latest album, The Dreamer, The Believer, on which he would reunite with master-producer No I.D., could be the album of the year — it wasn’t. While it was a strong showing by Common, but not the best effort of his career. Moreover, after weeks of great, great promo — he was all over the web and visiting radio stations — the release, in my opinion, was tainted at the last minute by this Drake business.
Common has grown to become one of hip-hop’s most respected MCs, and a great ambassador for the culture as a visible representative in mainstream pop culture via movies, books, commercials, philanthropy and more. For him to stoop to this level is just wack. By the way, I’m talking about the “Sweet” record and release-day controversy.
Some people are Drake haters and welcomed the diss, others are fans of Common’s earlier work and liken this to that — I don’t care about any of that: Common is wack for this (not wack as a person, or rapper, or anything else. I love him, he’s one of my favorites. But this “beef”, and his role instigating it, is wack).
For starters, the song leaked damn near two months ago on Nov. 2nd. Common has since released a video, spoken on the song and it’s been rumored that it was about Drake. All of a sudden, the day the album drops, he comes out and the song is about Drake. He’s on 106, GCI, Sway In The Morning. The day the album drops? C’mon son. He’s not exactly Thuggalicious either, and
In 1996 he was beefing with Ice Cube. 15 years later he’s beefing with Drake. And for no apparent reason. That’s just stupid, and until further information reveals itself, I’m dubbing it a ploy…all of this was on my mind when I copped the album.
As for actual music, it’s pretty good. Not as great as I’d hoped it would be, but very good considering the lofty expectations. Common’s bars aren’t his best, but the metaphors are abundant as he tries to take on a range of topics, most always successfully. Working exclusively with No I.D. gives this project awesome cohesiveness.
The Dreamer, The Believer hits the ground running with “The Dreamer” which features some inspiring words from the esteemed Maya Angelou. Starting here, we see what makes this album so good: tight rhymes, tailored production, great samples, great sequencing and a stellar supporting cast — much of the Cocaine 80s crew is prevalent throughout. Many of the records feature additional vocals from Makeba Riddick or James Fauntleroy, James Poyser on keys and Steve Wyreman on guitar and bass.
Other standout tracks include the second official single “Blue Sky”, “Sweet” (removed from it’s context, it is one of the best diss records in awhile ), “Lovin I Lost” (which makes great use of a magnificent Impressions sample) and “Celebrate”, a fantastic record that I think will prove to be especially timeless.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Dreamer, The Believer, I really did. But I can’t say that there’s anything that really took me over the top on here. Given what No I.D. has been doing over the past three years or so, and the Cocaine 80s collaborations between he and Common, tall expectations were certainly in order. In the end, it’s really strong front-to-back, never hits any low points, but rarely goes through the roof. Maybe I had my hopes too high.