album review – Common

Common
The Dreamer, The Believer
(THINKCOMMON/WB)

One is reminded of the Looney Tune featuring Chester and Spike, unlikely companions, Chester the overeager little pup to his can’t-be-bothered bulldog friend. “Hey Spike! Whaddya wanna do, Spike? You wanna chase a car?” *Smack “Nope,” says Spike, not breaking his stride. Common’s latest is a sleek attempt at a return to the b-boyisms of his earlier records. He reunites with No I.D., the producer of much of his best early work. I.D.’s efforts here are uniformly stellar, a uniquely Chicago mixture of samples and live instrumentation; you don’t realize he sampled ELO and Loggins & Messina until reading the notes. Common’s efforts show an emcee more interested in appeasing fans put off by the past couple records and staking claim to a street credibility he never had. And the less said about the Drake beef (tofu?) track “Sweet” filled with schoolyard homophobic raving from the man who claims righteousness, the better. Sure, Dreamer has a few very satisfying cuts, but the schizophrenic nature of the lyrics make you not want to break your own stride. — Damien McPherson

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