It has been quite a journey for Common. He use to love her ,then forgot her ,then left her and ultimately resurrected her . He is one of the greats despite taking chances and at times falling. Nobody,s Smiling sees a reinvigorated Common reflecting on his home after leaving to conquer the world and having a acting job. Chi -Town is a much different place then when he left it from his time traveling days . This is his tenth Lp and is produced entirely by NO ID and first for label Def Jam . The Huffington Post just recently posted about the Chicago unrest which is the basis for a majority of the songs. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/chicago-violence-federal-help_n_5596883.html As the people and climate change in America we find . Common as a lyricist trying to reflect it with this project.
Track 1 -The Neighboorhood f.Cocaine 80’s and Lil Herb is a mantra of a intro . Issuing a notice of warrant that says people are trading their souls for material possessions . Commons starts off with the lyrics you love and listen to him for
”The concrete matrix, street organizations
They gave violations, hood public relations
It was the basics to get big faces
Stay away from cases, bad broads, good graces
The hustles was the taste makers and trend setters
They the ones that fed us hopin’ that the feds don’t get us
The era of Reagan, the terror of Bush”
Is a great way to start and a decent verse from Lil Herb helps with a change of difference .
Track 2 – No Fear Has the sense you urgency you would expect from title . Common goes in on the world around him and expels the poetry you need. The hook is a little weak but this is a minor fault to consistent verses. The ending has some cords reminiscent of his prior work with Be and wish they rode out that a little more .
Track 3 -Diamonds f. Big Sean Is the first misstep I’m not really felling it Big Sean is overrated and his hook is not the right direction . If he is swing for a commercial hit this ain’t it . Common just fells forced over what seems like a Sean throwaway track . Here is the thing though maybe to people in Chicago might feel this one .
Track 4 – Blak Majik f. Jhene Aiko Has a very Yesus feel and that ain’t a compliment . Common’s lines are weak and is very all over the place with simple similes but has a change up from Aiko but can’t save this track.
Track 5- Speak my piece Has a nice play on words for the title . It also has a nice flip of a Biggie line and Common goes in . He flows great over the track . Speaking from a range of topics from acting , Kanye, and B Boys but seems very superficial.
Track 6 – Hustle Harder f Snoh Aalegra and Drezzy is a bad imitation of a Neptunes track and a horrible hook and bad wannabe Kanye West verses . I understand Common came before him but why regress to this its kinda sad to hear this from him . Snoh is not that well either .
Track 7 – Nobody’s Smiling f . Malik Yusef Takes cues from the drill music scene if you are not familiar with that type of genre it is trap music with hyper violent stories and lines popularized by Chief Keef but common flips it his way and again feels like he is stretching a little to hard . It may seem like I’m being negative to the outside reader but Common just has never been this type of emcee to me .
Track 8 – Real f. Elijah Blake was looking like a balance to these tracks prior but again Common goes for a stereotypical hook and more obvious lines you expect from a weaker emcee.
Track 9 – Kingdom f. Vinnie Staples with a dynamic beat that crushes on all levels great soul sample hard driving bass and drums and strong hook . it also helps Hype Williams directed the video . Common goes for broke on his verse and Vinny Staples comes with the educated thug mentality that speaks to the streets like it should . Its Staples flow that claps over this instrumental
”Sweet Lord Jesus, tell the polices to let a nigga breathe
My sinning father see, got a shipment by the seas
See my niggas tryna eat, eat whatever’s on your plate
Save some for me, the worst things in life come sitting six feet
Tryna hop the gate to heaven ‘cause I couldn’t get a key ” V Staples 3rd verse
Track 10 – Rewind that Is the story of Common and his friend a most consistent collaborator No ID . Like any friendship you have ups and downs and theirs is no different Common shows range and a maturity not since One Love by Nas in this ode to him . The beat compliments well and is a nice way to end the regular edition of this LP.
However I have the deluxe
Track 11 – Out on Bond f. Vinny Staples Has a hard beat with great visual storytelling by Common going in from the first drum tap . Staples comes in like a offender getting out on a second strike . Solid track and sad people may have missed this off the regular edition . It has a so so beat but not killing the track completely .
Track 12 – 7 Deadly Sins Is fire I mean FIRE lyrics are so great cause its just Common working off the different sins from the bible in a stream of consciousness he made a name with . This is by far the best production on the LP from NO ID . Its as if he used the organs from Jay -Z ‘s DOA and combined then with a Alchemist beat . Excellent track .
Track 13 – Young Hearts run free – f. Cocaine 80’S Is where we get a typical bonus track not good enough to put into the final product but good enough to make a addition .
What have we learned from this auditory adventure . That Common is still taking chances and attempts at staying relevant . While this LP had some phenomenal moments it had some real lackluster ones to . This is no Dreamer , This is no BE , This is certainly not Like water for chocolate which I feel is his most encompassing work from his catalogue . This is his attitude about a city of unrest CHI -RAQ . Showing beauty and violence on both levels. I leave you with this quote from one of Common’s inspirations
If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.
Best Tracks Kingdom f. Vinny Staples , 7 Deadly Sins , Rewind That
Overall a 6 out of 10
Reviewed by Byrdflew -https://twitter.com/molarcannons or Instagram @byrdflew