Album Review: Common – "Nobody's Smiling"
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:20:40
"Since I was a shorty, I was thinking longevity," Common raps on "No Fear", the second track on his latest album, Nobody's Smiling. "No fear, I say that with levity".
Longevity is an interesting concept in hip-hop. It's rather elusive for most. You drop one, two, or if you're lucky, three albums everybody likes, and things go downhill. That's the general trend for so many guys who came out of the gate with straight fire. However, ten albums into his career, Common delivers another classic on par with Be and Finding Forever. That's primarily because beyond spitting with raw heart like his very existence depends on it during the likes "No Fear", he still takes risks. Take the radio interludes between tracks threading it together as a loose Chicago concept record.
Or, in a truly fascinating move, he teams up with rap's favorite siren Jhené Aiko on "Blak Majik". It's eerie, enigmatic, and entrancing as they trade words over watery, claustrophobic production. At the same time, it's also undeniably beautiful. Big Sean delivers a powerful turn on "Diamonds", which shines brightly amongst the album's tracklisting. However, it's the soulful closer "Rewind That", which takes Common back to his roots, while demonstrating his progression. His flow feels airtight, but he taps into an emotionality that instantly resonates.
Common hasn't just achieved that longevity he dreamed of. He's gotten better with time. Nobody's Smiling indicates the future will be his brightest chapter yet and, given his legacy, that says a lot.
What's your favorite Common song?