[#6] COMMON - "THE DREAMER / THE BELIEVER"
I would like to say that "Resurrection" or even "Can I Borrow A Dollar?" was the records that put me on to Chicago's finest, Common Sense, but in fact it was the J Dilla/Soulquarian's collaboration masterpiece "Like Water For Chocolate". From there I worked my way back throughout his catalouge and fell in love with "Resurrection" and "One Day It'll All Make Sense" which showcased the strong musical compability Com' and his original producer and friend No I.D. showcased. Since the latter of those was released in 1997, the rapper moved to New York City and hardcore fans has basically been fiending for a new Common album fully produced record.
In 2011 the prayers have been answered with the 50 minutes long "The Dreamer/The Believer", but does it live up the sky high expectations. It's known that both the emcee and the producer has changed immensely over the 15 years since their last collaboration. The answer is yes and no - it's not a perfect record like "Resurrection" and besides their 1992 debut, it's the weakest one of their four LP:s together. That doesn't mean it's wack though, far from it - it is actually a very dope record, especially by 2011 standards and I would say it easily surpass Com's two preceeding ones and No I.D. delivers alot of beats that are straight up vintage sounding compared to much of the pop stuff he's been doing with people like Big Sean and others lately.
Long-time fans of the duo gets the occassional hardcore joints that could've been lifted straight out the '90s. Tracks like the superior first boombaptic "Ghetto Dreams" featuring sharp vocal performances by both Common and the LP:s only guest emcee, the always reliable Nas. Other glimpses of their past sounds can be found on the agressive "So Sweet", "Raw (How You Like It)" and "Gold". While the rhythm patterns are driving and overall grimy but the producer makes sure to always add a sort of counterpoint to the rawness by at the same time drenching them in soul samples. Common is in fine form, continuing his mission to wake people up through his loving message and let people know that anything you want for your life you can achieve. This message is especially well executed on the two separate title tracks, the opening "The Dreamer" and the beautiful John Legend blessed "The Believer". On both songs No I.D. create backing tracks that perfectly suits the motivational message, proving that after all these years the chemistry between two long-time friends who started making music together is still as evident this far down the line.
"The Dreamer/The Believer" is not the "perfect" album it could have been however. There's a couple songs that really doesn't fit the picture at all; especially the boring and cliché sounding "Celebrate" that sounds like one of the worst tracks on Kanye West's and Jay-Z's extremelly dissapointing "Watch the Throne" this year. Despite a few flaws, the album is not the album of the year many hoped but it's still a really good album, and at least 40 of the 50 minutes the LP consists of is a blessing to hear. I'm a believer in future collaborations, that's my word.