I can always say that Common has been consistently amazing, hip-hop wise. If you were really had to think on it there are classic Common tracks that tend to make you ponder, smile, and amaze you with the sheer genius of them. So this is the audience participation part of the article, if you so choose. Think on a few of your favorite Common tracks.
Here are mine, by way of an example.
"Used To Love H.E.R." was technically before my hip-hop genesis but all the same an amazing track with an great depth to it. The extended metaphor of referring to hip-hop as a woman is clever at a time when a lot of people weren't really doing that. Originality is to be appreciated.
"Come Close" makes a smile cross my face every time I think about it. Honestly it is mostly because I was truly in love with the idea of the music video, which often is one of my favorite parts of the process of releasing a single. Imagine speaking to the woman you love through giant posters of your thoughts and actions. It also didn't hurt in my opinion to have Mary J. Blige singing out the hook. To me that was what I wanted love to be like.
"The Light" was one of those odd summer songs that grew on you. Maybe the first few times I heard it I didn't so much care for it. After a while it seeped into my consciousness and became a part of me. You can't often say that about songs.
More of his tracks have a profound effect on my ears, including "Testify", "The Food", "Southside", "Forever Begins", and "Universal Mind Control".
This all leads me towards his latest effort, The Dreamer/The Believer.
As what you'd expect of Common there are depths in each of his songs that you uncover as you listen to them. I've been thoroughly pleased with the treasure hunting aspect of his albums, this one included. A few of the real gems in my eyes are as follows:
"Ghetto Dreams" appeals to me simply because I love the sound of Nas and Common together on a song. To me the beat is gritty and bass heavy with the occasional record scratch. Without much effort this one makes your head nod. The two speak of a beautiful woman of the 'hood, their 'ghetto dream' of sorts. As a person who has seen a hood chick that has made me pause I can relate to some of this. Nas and Common speak on it in raw rhyme and with a delivery that is academic of the two MCs.
"Blue Sky" gives me the vibe I got the first time I heard Aloe Blacc's "I Need A Dollar". When I say that I mean that it is an odd little track that catches you with the off kilter beat being presented. This one speaks of the good things, the dreams that we all shoot towards. This one gives you a extremely hopeful vibe, almost as if you could fly if you were to really attempt it.
"Cloth" was one of those songs that I honestly slept on, truth be told. It wasn't until a late night of music that I discovered it. The beat caught me first. At three in the morning it had me, so much so that I penned a poem just from listening. By definition "Cloth" is another love song but with an extended metaphor of clothes. Each verse extols that along with the affection he [Common] holds for his lady love. The hook, for lack of less of a pun, threads each verse together.
Oh you're about when people stop and stare/That's just a tear on those beautiful clothes you wear/Cut from the same cloth you just want to wear/But that's just a tear because girl I can get you fresh
No other word exists for this one save brilliant.
"Celebrate" is a piano laden track that gives the feel of its title. Almost immediately you can see yourself at a really good party or a nice block party of sorts. Common tells the story with textbook flow that you can almost see happening as every syllable falls from his lips and into your ears. Every aspect of this offering, from the piano to the hook, just works.
Based on the strength of this album I am sure that Common will continue givving us quality LPs that will have us deep in thought for years to come.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine