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AHH ALBUM REVIEW: Common "Nobody's Smiling"


Common has always been Chicago’s ambassador of Hip Hop. Kanye West may be the most influential artist coming out of the Windy City, but Common’s rhymes have always felt like the city’s presence in popular Hip Hop; with his rhymes closely mirroring the state of city along with his pride and confidence. Unfortunately, Chicago hasn’t been in great condition in the past few years. The constant violence there has made the city the murder capital of the country, even to the point where the violence has influenced the Chicago’s new waves of artists, whether it’s in terms of peace or war. This is evident in Common’s tenth album Nobody’s Smiling, a project that illustrates Chicago’s hostile inner-city. Compared to Common’s last albums, Nobody’s Smiling is dark, maybe darker than the Chicago’s inner city streets. However, Common’s consciousness in rhymes shine’s as bright as the street lights that guide someone out of a hostile environment.

There are different factors that make Nobody’s Smiling a complex masterpiece, with one of them being the production. All of the instrumentals are produced by No ID, however, there isn’t any repetitiveness present. Each instrumental fits well with Common’s rhymes, and helps Common paints the gloomy streets of Chicago’s inner-city. One of the songs that makes this evident is the second track off the album, “No Fear”, a track that uses a barbaric bassline and synths to illustrate a man’s competitive nature within Chicago’s hostile inner-city. Nobody’s Smiling production is spot on, using hip hop rooted beats with a darker twist. Thanks NO I.D.!

Common’s conscious rap skills aren’t new, but in Nobody’s Smiling, his skills are illustrated through a point-of-view perspective. His verses puts listeners in the shoes of a young child surrounded by the chaotic environment of inner-city Chicago. This perspective is played out through a plethora of songs in Nobody’s Smiling, one of the best being the track of the same name. The album seems like it’s dedicated to shedding light on Chicago’s inner-city (and it does for the most part), but Real is a song that takes you away from the dark Chi-town streets to see the beauty of the city through upbeat production and light-hearted wordplay. Common’s lyrical ability is as strong in Nobody’s Smiling as it is in his last 9 albums, maybe stronger.
In conclusion, Nobody’s Smiling is a project dedicated to informing listeners about what is going on in the streets of inner-city Chi-Town. It’s serves as the channel news of the inner-city streets, but instead of anchors and reporters, Common uses intense wordplay and first-person perspectives to give you the story, while the dark instrumentals draw you into the hostile streets of the Windy City.

  • The Legendary Troll

    Dude trippin. Aint nothing in the rap game for you bruh. These youngsters dont wanna hear real music. Stick to hollywood

    • 0STFUUIGNANT0

      That wasnt trolling, that was the truth unfortunately.

  • Dmvnation202

    His best album to me.

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  • 0STFUUIGNANT0

    3rd best album, tied with BE.

    • Glasscut

      No Like water for chocolate

    • brotha_man

      co sign

    • brotha_man

      dont know if “be” is top three for me tho

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  • bisolabliss

    Better late than never AHH…still an inept review in my humble opinion but hey, what do I know.

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  • Markus

    One thing missing in rap music is hip hop. Common helps but the genre remains seriously imbalanced.

    • Immortal

      Hate to say his name next to this, but Stench has a point; Conscious Hip Hop doesn’t sell”. As good as I want Common’s album to be, he is a conscious rapper, and I’m wondering if the album is going to be full of messages which folks will bob their heads to (which I prefer in this case), or has he gone the mixed route which would give him airplay and seem odd for him. I don’t expect him to unify anything or even solve the ills of Chicago, but if his message can get ring home with one person, then to me his job has been done.

      • Markus

        I agree. I don’t expect a movement in the music to start from this album. Rap thrives in ignorance and sadly it’s not looking like that will change any time soon. What would be worse to me is if one of the last sensible artists left had succumbed to the pressure of contributing to that ignorance. I hope that’s not the case. But I have no illusions that the art in the music is lost.

      • Immortal

        Speaking of rap vultures….

      • Markus

        Fans of hip hop should not support dudes who don’t represent them. Sorry but that image there is not what I’m about. I know that it’s just a picture but they look like clowns.

      • Immortal

        I posted them because they are a good part of what’s wrong with rap, and the ruining of Hip Hop in general. Neither would be ish without that one word, or the ability for them to buy “acceptance” by getting into gangs like the bloods. They are rap vultures in the purest sense, but are not alone. Take away the standard industry requirements of what to say to make an album, and damn near every rap artist out there would fold up and blow away. Take away the beat makers and great producers, and folks would see pretty quick how YMCMB and others of their ilk have no substance and have been playing us for years after their 15min was up. I’m not going to say it’s a north vs. south vs. east vs. west thing even though I posted that pic. It’s a culmination of issues all across the board, across the nation.

      • Markus

        I agree 1000% percent. And don’t get me started with that slur anyway. African Americans are the only culture that decided to hold on to the wretched derogatory way that their oppressors communicated with them and now acknowledge and greet each other with it. It’s so embedded in the culture that just waking up and going another way seems hopeless. What’s worse is the reasoning these fools give as to why they do it and their explanations of endearment is idiotic at best. This is not a case where they should turn a frown upside down.

      • Immortal

        It is a shame and what you’re saying is very true. Again I’ll call myself out before being a hypocrite saying I don’t use it. While it’s not part of my common conversation when dealing with anyone, I have used it in describing things or people along with my memes. It’s not right, and I don’t use it as a term of endearment nor do I see a difference in using an “a” over the “er”.

      • Markus

        You’re not alone in that, boss. It’s evolved past just acknowledgement between African Americans. Now everyone is uttering the slur because they’ve bought into the theory that if the original intention isn’t attached with the use of it then it’s acceptable. I can only imagine how the pioneers of the civil rights movement feel viewing the current results of their efforts. I doubt this was what they fought, bled and died for.

      • Celz

        White people call themselves rednecks, trailer trash, peckerwoods, and listen to honky tonk music.. I’m glad the word went mainstream now the word won’t carry the same weight against my grandkids as it did against my grandparents. Lol I bet old KKK members are rolling in their grave over white kids thinking callin themselves niccas is cool. I would prefer other races don’t use it but I would rather them use it that way. It was going to be used regardless..

      • Markus

        It’s not really mainstream if a white person can still use that slur against an African American in a derogatory manner. Those KKK members you mentioned are rejoicing in what they programmed so long ago has stuck around and progressed into the virus that it is. It’s a bad habit and embracing it isn’t cool.

      • Immortal

        So using what you said, you’re saying it’s to take the “power” of the word away, so how do you feel about what I attached below and Kanye saying he was trying to take away the “power” of the flag? Neither one are right, and that tired excuse of “heritage not hate” applies to both. That word should have the same effect and invoke the same emotions with you that this piece of ish flag I attached (and hopefully wasn’t removed) with you and your grandkids that it did with your parents.

      • Celz

        The word is derived from an African word. Obviously with countries like Niger and Nigeria. So derivatives will be in our vernacular regardless. It’s not about taking a white word, it’s taking back our own word. Jeff Foxworthy called millions of white people rednecks and no one cared. The word has less hurtful power and less of a negative connotation period, and many people like that.

      • Immortal

        So when someone jumps off the “dumba$$” cliff, we’re supposed to follow? Jeff can call them anything he likes. That’s the cliff they’re willing to fall off. I don’t think we should follow by repeating it, but we are and do. But on a more important note, the thread has been lost. What we should be discussing is Commons album and what it could mean for those who enjoy Hip Hop over rap. But I would like to discuss this more. I think it’s something that should be discussed.

      • Celz

        Lol the threads are always lost on here. I feel what you’re saying and I definitely think people overuse it. I say it but it’s not the only word I use. My G, my dude, my boy are all commonly used out here in Cali.. I even stole the my guy from Chicago, lol.. I think the use of the word so closely with negative stereotypes and images of the community can do more harm than good. In the 90s it wasn’t as bad.. So if the commercialization of Hip Hop continues at this rapid pace maybe I will change my mind somewhat..

      • Immortal

        Respect

      • Judah Nazayar

        ur right africa was a white roman man who spoke latin.. Nigga/negro= black/dark.. good job sir.
        hamites dont know nothing about this word…this is strictly edomite/eurpoean language

      • hoeyuno

        That ish is hilarious!!!

      • Judah Nazayar

        sumbody put this onnna t shirt!! ill buy it…real talk

      • A RAB MONEY

        lol….lil wayne was sooooo bad wen he was with the Hot Boyz….then in like 06 he blew up like crazy

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  • hoeyuno

    Common for prez!!!

    • brotha_man

      he got my vote

  • brotha_man

    the new common album is dope!!! fav joint is “Rewind that”…whole album is dope tho

    • bisolabliss

      Yea, my man, ‘Rewind That’ is bananas. I especially love the ode to J. Dilla…that sh1t is dope as fcuk

    • TheAfroRican

      The “Real” joint was cool too. NO ID is a beast on the boards.

  • Sadat

    Album is dope from start to finish. 5 star rating from me.

  • Dadon850

    Common def came through with this one. Just what dudes my age needed.

  • The Legendary Troll

    As usual allhiphop post like one story every three days

  • The_Good_Life

    Favorite joint was deadly sins. I don’t think its exaggeration to say its his best album ever.

  • David Gonz

    commmon been done fsince 98. ridin coattails ass knee grow

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