If you’re a fan of Common, then by now you''ll most likely have noticed there is a pattern with him and his work: He''ll put out maybe one or two quality, dope albums in a row, then get comfortable and try to branch out a bit and do something experimental, then after an overall lukewarm reception from the fans, goes right back in and cranks out another gem to make up for the last one. The Dreamer, The Believer is the fruits of his labor after the experiment, and true to the pattern he has established for himself, it is indeed a gem.
It’s good to see your favorite artists grow and mature musically over the years, but it’s even better when they know how to go back to the sound that got you interested in them in the first place. Common definitely does that by wisely linking up with long time collaborator No I.D. to produce the entire album. Despite how well Common and Kanye work together (see Com''s album, Be) The chemistry born between these two on wax is awe inspiring, and if you somehow missed out on the last masterpiece created by their said chemistry (Resurrection) then here is a good chance to see what it’s about. Com really put his foot in this one.
Starting things off on the right foot, the album opens up with "The Dreamer" feat. Maya Angelou, in which Com raps about the many aspects of dreaming to do bigger things. While already being well written by Com, the fantastic and soulful, in your face production from No I.D. punctuated with the wise words of Maya Angelou closing it out really make this a noteworthy track. Easily, my favorite track on the CD.
One thing I really like about this album, and about Common in general, is that there’s never too much of one thing or not enough of something on his albums. It’s always pretty balanced. Listening to tracks like "The Dreamer", "Blue Sky", "Windows", "The Believer" you get your fill of the conscious, positive message in the music Com. Then you get the refection of success on "Gold" which is more humble than I''m probably making it sound. Then there’s the lyrical muscle flexing, chip on the shoulder rap on "Sweet" where you see Com getting at no one in particular (unless it applies to you), and "Raw." Then there’s the tracks made for and about the ladies, like "Love I Lost" speaking about a love that got away, "Ghetto Dreams" featuring Nas, where both men spit their descriptions of their ideal woman, and "Cloth" which seems to be the only track that Common speaks his genuine feeling for a woman. And of course, what Common album would be complete without a closing track from Pops, which he gives us on Pop''s Belief.
Despite a couple of missteps in the music making, one thing Common has always been consistent about with every album after Resurrection is his conservative use of high profile features. For some rappers this works well because they sound better surrounded by various styles then they do by themselves. Com is not one of those rappers. You want to hear what this man has to say on every track he''s on, and having others interrupt that flow just takes away from the experience. That said however, "Ghetto Dreams" was an excellent exception to that, since Common held it down on his end with two verses and gave just the right amount of lime light to Nas to leave his mark and make it a fire track.
Even though having nothing but praise is highly suspect for a product review, I have a really hard time finding something wrong with this album. I guess if it came down to it, the only gripes I really have with the CD is 1) its length, which clocks in just over 50 minutes, and 2) Pop''s Belief. I''m not really feeling this contribution from Pops, mostly because the production just wasn’t resonating with me the way that his past works have done. No Pops song has ever as of yet, surpassed "Pops Rap III" from Like Water for Chocolate. Without the smooth, jazzy instrumentation I''ve come to associate with his presence, it’s just not the same. It’s not BAD, but not the same.
Overall, The Dreamer, The Believer is a solid, well developed album, which easily scores a 5/5 in my book. Is it a classic? I''m not so sure yet. Only time will tell, but so far it’s got a pretty good start. Definitely worth the money. Get it now!
Written by: Q. Pair