Real Talk: The Top 15 Albums Of 2011

By: 12.30.11

Who: Common
What: The Dreamer/The Believer
Why: 4 Cigs
Label: Warner Bros./Think Common Music Inc. | Producers: No I.D.

The Good: It’s Common. His latest LP is tight on tracks (only 12), thumps with the soul-infused production of fellow Chicagoan No I.D. and sees invigorated lyricism from the rapper-turned-actor. Album opener “The Dreamer” gets a Flying Lotus-inspired rattle and “Celebrate” incorporates the cheer and optimism the Windy City native is known for. “Blue Sky” is a guaranteed radio single and “Ghetto Dreams” is a Hip-Hop fan’s wet dream, as Nas tags along. Pause.

The Bad: It’s Common. Not that there’s anything wrong with one of Chicago’s greatest Hip-Hop exports, but all of his best efforts sound exactly the same: heavy on the aforementioned soul and dripping in sap. He’s not as hyper-polarizing as the man he’s currently in a feud with, but his work compares similarly. For listeners not looking for 50 minutes of feel-good preaching, The Dreamer, The Believer won’t be an enjoyable listen — if they choose to press play at all.

The Lovely: It’s no secret that Com’s preferring his role as an actor and celebrity than musical wordsmith. But the fact that he backtracked to drop an album worth good replay values still says volumes about him as an artist. Common’s always been as good as his friendship with the album’s main producer and together, there’s definitely a lot of magic left. — Ryan J.

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