Tag Archives: No I.D.

Kanye West Feat. Big Sean, Charlie Wilson & Beyonce – See Me Now; My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy 

Producer: Kanye West, No I.D. & Lex Luger

Sample: Brian and Brenda Russell – Think About You [Link]


Forgot These On My Best of 2011 List…

No matter how well I think I did, I always forgot a couple items on my year-end “best of” list. This time I forgot two joints: Skyzoo’s The Great Debater mixtape (which also had the best album artwork of the year), and both Cocaine 80s projects (The Pursuit and Ghost Lady), which, for these purposes, can be consolidated into one. The latter I’m especially ashamed of forgetting because I harped on how slept-on they were; and they weren’t just  good, they were excellent, possessing some of the best grooves, songwriting and Common records of the year…My bad!

The Dreamer, The Believer Review + Thoughts On The Drake Controversy:

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.

Common – Blue Sky; The Dreamer, The Believer

Producer: No I.D.

Sample: Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky [Link]

Common – Celebrate; The Dreamer, The Believer

Producer: No I.D.

Sample: Kenny Loggins – Celebrate Me Home [Link]

Finally got around to listening to this album yesterday — better late than never. One of the better albums I’ve heard this year, no doubt.

Pac Div – The Greatness; The Div

Producer: No I.D.


A Year Ago Today: MBDTF

So, exactly one year ago today, Kanye released his masterpiece, MBDTF — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While many ambitiously set out to tackle and incorporate a wide-range of sounds, few have done so without mistake; none with the perfection that ‘Ye did on Twisted Fantasy. Ultimately, this should go down as one of the top 10 or 15 hip-hop records of all time. Progressively-speaking, it’s in the same vein as It Takes A Nation Of Millions, The Chronic and Ready To Die. Like those albums, Twisted Fantasy really carved out a lane of its own, and nothing else sounds even remotely close — aside from WTT, which Kanye, obviously, had a major role in. Listening to great soul and funk albums from the late 60s and early 70s (i.e. The Payback, Go For Your Guns), this strikes a familiar chord there, as well. Long songs, cinematic music.

While there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this album’s release — from the G.O.O.D. Friday’s to the 30-minute Runaway video — as well as controversy — Taylor Swift, Amber Rose, etc., Kanye met every single expectation. And then some. The team ‘Ye put together, secluding him — and them — in Hawaii, is top-notch: Pusha T, No. I.D., Jay-Z, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, so on and so forth.  The range of topics he was able to touch on — which were endless as they were laid over incredible, diversely-influenced production. Of course there was Runaway, Hell Of A Life and Blame Game, clearly spiked by his tumultuous relationship with Amber Rose. But there was also Gorgeous and Power. The former is some of the best shit he’s ever spit. Lost In The World is phenomenal, as well.

What’s left to be mentioned? Dark Fantasy (which leaves with no choice but to bob the shit outta your head after he jumps in, “I fantasized bout this back in Chicago”; All Of The Lights (featuring every one from Alicia Keys to Elton John); Monster (which features the perhaps Nicki Minaj’s best verse to-date); So Appalled (featuring Hov, Pusha and Cyhi); and Devil In A New Dress (featuring Ross, a great Smokey Robinson sample and awesome guitar solo). So yeah, this was a pretty damn good album and body of work. Forget singles and radio smashes, this is a 70-minute work of art.

It will be interesting to take this similar “look back” five years and ten years from now, but I can’t see the value or quality of this sliding. If anything, the appreciation for it will be even greater. In the meantime, here’s to the one-year anniversary of the best hip-hop record — and one of the best records regardless of genre — in the past 10 years.