Common isn’t steadily putting out music like you may remember. He’s busy doing his acting thing, and doing an amazing job. He decided to release an album titled “Black America Again” in November of last year. He brought in John Legend, Bilal, BJ The Chicago Kid and others to contribute vocals to the project. Production for the most part was done by Kariem Riggins. Robert Glasper produces some tracks as well.
Joy And Peace – The project kicks off with someone welcoming people to an event, asking people to open their hearts. Common us making a parallel, comparing his album to a gathering where people are going to listen to some important words and information. We are these people, and he’s getting us ready for the musical and intellectual ride that he is about to take us on. Common jumps in and starts slipping knowledge in, with this clever wordplay. The bass gives the rack a nice groove.
Home – Common has a great line on this track,
“Don’t get caught up in the vanity or the worlds insanity”
It’s a really cool way to end his verse. Some real knowledge that everyone can use. The drums have a real gritty feels and mix well with the trumpet.
Black America Again – It starts off slow with a piano playing, so I thought it was going to be a softer track. The drums come in and Common starts spitting fire. You get smacked in the face with powerful lyrics. There are some really nice scratching added to the track as well. He rhymes about black American people and the current state of those being marginalized by a system that does not seem to be in their favor. Common is trying to open our eyes to what is really happening. He touches on mass incarceration and it’s similarities to slavery. He also speaks on the fact that Maria Sharipova makes more money than Serena Williams. That’s something to think about.
Love Star – Common is rhyming about a special someone that is in love. Love is a big theme in his songs and he does them well. Marsia Ambrosia adds her beautiful vocals, putting a bow on this love song for Hip Hop fans. This track can be played for people who aren’t into Hip Hop and they would enjoy it. The track transcends music genres.
Red Wine – A smooth track with a real RnB feel. The vocals are soft and delicate. The beat is stripped down and makes you really focus on the lyrics and melody.
Pyramids – I love the Ol Dirty Bastard sample that was used. It brings ODB back to life, in musical form. A bit of a tribute to a fallen artist. This is another simplistic beat with minimal samples and sounds, giving the beat an uncluttered feel.
Unfamiliar – Some playful sounding vocal samples are used, creating the upbeat melody. PJ adds vocals for the chorus. Drums are on the softer side giving the beat a smooth sound. Common flows really nice to the beat, emphasizing certain syllables to add some effect as you follow along with this flow.
A Bigger Picture Called Free – A minimalist beat is used for Common to express his many thoughts as he bounces from thought to thought, connecting them with wordplay. It has a poetic feel to it. Syd gives the chorus a gentle touch, adding texture to the jazzy beat.
The Day Women Took Over – Common understands the importance of women in the world, and paints a picture of a world with women in power. He’s not afraid to show his appreciation for women in detail. This point of view is lacking in a Hip Hop world that is so male dominated, and focusing on objectifying women. He’s trying to change the way we see women. It’s a welcomed perspective that I’d like to see more of.
Rain – John Legend brings his smooth, soulful signing to the track. The piano is elegantly played. giving the vibe of a throwback love song. No drums, just the piano is used for Common to flow over. It’s not an easy feat, but Common does it well.
Little Chicago Boy – Common gets his storytelling on for this track. He talks about his father and his relationship with him as a boy. The guitar, combined with the gentle tambourine hit work very well together. His Dad has a part in the track where he talks and drops some gems of knowledge for the listener. Common has his Dad on most of his albums. You may remember hearing “Pop’s Rap” on previous albums.
Letter To The Free – Common gets even deeper if you can imagine, closing out the albums with a track about how black Americans have been treated recently, He goes into detail about what these people can expect after the outcome of the US presidential elections. It’s a sad way to end the project but he’s hitting us with the reality of the situation, hoping it will help spark a revolution.
This project has a strong socially conscious feel. This is nothing new for Common fans. He gives us what you would expect from a mature Hip Hop artist as far as lyrical content. The beats are organic and very instrumental. He takes you on an emotional ride through the lens of the current social experience of minorities.
Purchase on iTunes
And listen on Spotify.