This morning, Common released Nobody's Smiling, his tenth studio album. It's his first since The Dreamer / The Believer in 2011. Nobody's Smiling, which centers around Chicago's increasing gun violence, is succinct and eclectic. In the album, Common performs passionately and articulately over No I.D. production.
Big Sean, Jhene Aiko, Lil Herb, Elijah Blake, and Cocaine 80s are among the features, but the highlight guest appearance comes from the late Biggie Smalls on "Speak My Piece." No I.D. sampled "Hypnotize" to create a boom-bap track that showcases Common very much in his element. While "Speak My Piece" and a few other tracks don't focus on the message of the album, with such a dark theme, that's not necessarily a bad thing. While some songs don't address the theme, "No Fear," "Rewind That," and "Out on Bond" do an exceptional job of covering the material. Common does not condemn Chicago's youth in the album, rather, he paints a vivid picture of what life is like in inner-city Chicago.
In addition to "Speak my Piece," the best tracks are "The Neighborhood," "Diamonds," "Blak Majik," "Rewind That," "7 Deadly Sins," and "Young Hearts Run Free." The album has fantastic production from beginning to end, making it flow very smoothly.
What's awesome about Common is that all of his albums go in different directions. Nobody's Smiling has a much different style than Be, which sounds different than Like Water for Chocolate, which sounds totally different than Electric Circus. It's really incredible to think that Common has been mixing it up creatively since 1992.
Be sure to check Common's Zumic artist page to keep up with his music, news, and videos.