Common: Nobody’s Smiling

Nobody’s Smiling
(Def Jam)

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Common has long enjoyed a highly coveted space in the hearts and minds of hip hop heads and music lovers. His clearheaded level of unflinching and unapologetic truth telling when it comes to social injustices and disparity has also long solidified his role as a true messenger. Common’s new release, Nobody’s Smiling, takes on a more minimalistic soundscape, but with a potent lyrical intensity. Speaking more specifically to the recent wave of violence that has riddled Chicago, the album was born out of that plague. The track, “Kingdom” featuring Vince Staples, presents an immeasurable emotive strength as it sizzles with a gospel hook. Remorse, heartbreak and a call for resolution runs through the pungent bass beats along with a bleary picture of the urban life that it seeks to portray. As a Chicago native, Common’s intellectual and sensual prowess has always been above average, however Nobody’s Smiling seems to feature and amplify more of a battle rap style, fighting on behalf of the people caught in the crosshairs. The whirling R&B front of “Real” featuring syrupy sweet vocals by Elijah Blake makes you forget the song is a diss song. “Nobody’s Smiling” is menacing from beginning to end and is full of desperation and desire. Female rapper Dreezy’s delivery is unforgettable, embedded within the heavy percussion on “Hustle Harder” as the song pays homage to an indestructible female. While “Blak Majik” consists of vocals by Jhene Aiko, “Speak My Peace” showcases the sinewy malleability of Common’s rhyme style.

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