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The Dreamer, The Believer
(Warner Bros.)

Common has always been a rapper that everyone has enjoyed, he’s had his hits and he’s made a name for himself both in and out of the music world. But when he dropped his new album, The Dreamer, The Believer at the tail end of 2011, there wasn’t a great deal of hype surrounding the record. It’s a shame, as it turns out, as this is a great album, full of big production and an authoritative voice not heard from Common in quite a while.

After an opening salvo from Maya Angelou, Common and guest Nas drop bombs over No ID‘s thumping bass kicking the album off with a bang that doesn’t relent throughout. Lyrically, Common is on point, sometimes being a lot more forward that usual but always maintain his prowess with words in a voice that could only belong to him. With few guests appearing on the album [especially in this era of guests on almost every song], his vocals cut harder and with more meaning, clearly no bad thing.

Having No ID produce the entirety of the album also helps gives the record a consistency that might have been missing if the MC had cherry picked beats from a variety of beatmakers. Whether dropping a sample from ELO’s Mr Blue Sky or crafting a more intropsective beat for the track Gold or a larger epic sound to carry the John Legend guested The Believer, the producer continually finds sounds that fit Common’s delivery perfectly.

If this had been released in the middle of the year, or indeed anytime before the last couple of weeks in December, it would have definitely been in the top 10 of 2011. As it is, I wasn’t able to listen to it as much as I’d like before making my list, but don’t get it wrong – this is a fantastic album and, dare I say it, the best of Common’s already stellar career.