A cry for Aston Martin Kings, Luther with dreams, and a young Denzel moving through scenes. In the wake of writing a best-selling book and acting in a lead role in a television series depicting the formation of the transcontinental railroad during the post-Civil War reconstruction era, Common’s lyricism and gift to “make songs as sweet as the psalms” still hasn’t dropped a beat. Oh and how about that beat? For his upcoming album The Dreamer, The Believer dropping November 22nd, Common has opted to keep it as close-to-the-Chi as possible selecting to have No I.D. produce the whole thing. Already having collaborated earlier on “Ghetto Dreams” with Nas and the mesmerizing vocals of James Fauntleroy to form the band Cocaine 80s, No I.D. has once again raised the bar. This time toward the Blue Sky with a sample from a song of a similar name composed by the classic English rock group Electric Light Orchestra. For those who don’t know they were England’s top-selling group in 1979 and teamed with Olivia Newton-John on the score for the film–musical Xanadu– a box-office bomb of a film with an amazing pop-disco soundtrack that hit double-platinum in sales.
The production on this is top-notch. The vocals bouncing behind Common asking “please tell us…why? you had to hide away for so…” balance and blend with the unparalleled poetics of Common with a sense of soul that adds something new to the library of the conscious lyricist while still keeping the feel that Finding Forever and Be captured. From the first two singles coming off this album, it seems to be that Common’s chemistry with No I.D. is right on par with the previous awesomeness he gave us with DJ Premier, Kanye West, and the late J-Dilla. Even under the sharpening of the spotlight with the stupidity of Fox News calling him a cop-killer, and a blossoming career as an actor and author Common has not changed. Not by continuing to rap, but continuing to use the culture of hip-hop he has long-championed to teach us to love. With an authentic smile under the shadow of his signature newsboy hat and lyrics that only go in one direction—within, Common certainly carries the right to claim “Cum Laude. Top of the class.”