I ♥ Tuesdays Vol. 8

When Common appeared in TV spots for The Gap in 2006, his fanbase’s collective face-palm was heard ’round the world. Here is a dude who long criticized the commercialization of his art form promoting a company in hot water for questionable labor practices.  It was, in my opinion, one of the biggest gaffs in hip-hop PR history, and coming of his classic record Be, a huge disappointment for one of the genre’s most respected emcees.

Despite a couple of requisite bangers, the two Com records that followed sounded more like material coming from a Gap than an emcee who once ate O’Shea’s lunch. Though both were somehow nominated (and lost) for Grammies, Finding Forever and Universal Mind Control seemed to further extend Com’s self-parody as one the most contradictory, conflicted, and condescending emcees in the game.  While I always maintained hope that Lonnie would once again see the light, I was beginning to lose faith until I heard about The Dreamer, The Believer, which hits stores this Tuesday.  By once again linking up with fellow Chi-Town resident No I.D. for the entirety of the project, it seemed Com was attempting to reach back to the prime of his career.

So how did he fare?  I’ve always been a fan of the one producer, one emcee formula, and it helps on this effort.  The record-to-record consistency  is there, and for an emcee with significant lyrical depth, cohesion couldn’t be more important.  In fact, there aren’t really any tracks on the album that have me reaching for the skip button.  I’m also impressed that, outside of the overly-friendly ELO sample on “Blue Sky,” there aren’t any blatant attempts at crossover radio hits.  Instead, we find Com coming with a ferocity we haven’t seen in years on tracks like “Raw (How You Want It)” and particularly “Sweet,” on which he takes aim at “soft motherfuckers” game-wide.  And from the sounds of Com’s vexation regarding rapper/crooners, The Kitten Whisperer and friends best take note.

The Dreamer, The Believer isn’t without faults, and Lonnie still has the tendency to get a bit preachy with his lyrics at times, but the record certainly appears indicate a welcomed transition for Com.  Listening to a joint like “Lovin I Lost,” it’s also clear that Com can continue to evolve and explore previously unfamiliar territory with his delivery.  Perhaps it’s the familiar No I.D. soundscapes, perhaps it’s a late maturation, but Com seems to be a lot more comfortable on this LP than anytime since Be.  We can only hope that Com is long past the days of ill-advised Gap ads, and that he can continue to embrace his status as a widely-respected pioneer of the genre.   

– Noakes   

Originally posted December 20, 2011 at theblast-blog.com


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