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Common, The Dreamer/The Believer

Common’s in a great place. Initially perceived as a boisterous, 40 oz-drinking MC on his first two LPs in the early ‘90s, he evolved into the poster boy for conscious rap during the next decade. His last LP, the disappointing Universal Mind Control, was unusually stripped of substance, but fairly reflected what the Chicago MC had become—a mainstream rap star with Hollywood success.

Now, 39, Com is comfortable enough to show all facets of his personality without appearing conflicted. The Dreamer/The Believer paints the perfect picture of Rashid “Common” Lynn—the artist, the man. He returns to his brash roots on “Sweet” and “Raw (How You Like It)”—spitting, “’You Hollywood,’ nah nigga, I’m Chicago/So I cracked his head with a muthafuckin’ bottle.” He’s as women-friendly as ever on “Lovin’ I Lost,” “Cloth” and “Windows,” then parties up on “Celebrate.”

Don’t let the motion picture roles fool you. Com is an MC first. He flexes his lyrical muscle throughout the LP. “Lyrical gymnast, you set the bar low,” he spits on “Gold.”
Aside from chorus assistance from Makeba Riddick, James Fauntlero and John Legend, the LP’s sole rap guest appearance comes from Nas on “Ghetto Dreams.” Com delivers a backpacker’s wet dream with the oft requested collaboration—the two previously appeared on Jadakiss’s “Why (Remix)” and Hi-Tek’s “Music for Life.”

The Dreamer/The Believer may be Com’s most digestible LP to date. His penchant for uplifting bars is still present, but the message is sprinkled across a number of songs, not a dominant theme. Don’t look for sore points, here. There are none. Com and No I.D.’s chemistry clearly hasn’t suffered from a 14-year break—the two longtime collaborators hadn’t worked together since 1997′s One Day It’ll All Make Sense. No—who mans the board on all 11 songs— matches’s Com’s moods with fittingly choice soundscapes ranging from soulful (“Gold”) to rock solid (“Sweet”) to quasi futuristic (“Blue Sky”)—allowing the Chi-Town vet to deliver a cohesive album that ranks among the best in his stellar 19-year career. —Carl Chery (@cchery)

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  • JahiSalaam

    i think iht deserves XXL , album was outstanding

    • http://twdrapreviews.blogspot.com that white dude

      totally agree. xxl’s ratings have been so wack lately

  • Anonymous

    This definitely deserve an XXL. This album was fire. It’s better than basically anything release over the past year.

  • Slick..

    Saigon Greatest Story Never Told and Common The Dreamer/The Believer albums of the year !

    • Jubberman


  • nathanial

    really it should of been XXL.. yall slackin

  • ayyy

    yeh he totally deserves an xxl great album

  • EEbubble

    I thought this was a classic album, shouldve been XXL, i let it play from beginning to end and it always seems to end quickly because i enjoy it so much and like the perfect order of each song after the other.

  • jason

    this saigon and the roots best albums of the year

  • Malik

    XXL, y’all be tripping, this here ablum is ’5 Mics’ or ‘XXL’ whichever. The streets have spoken, better get your shit in order… Peace Out!

  • Malik

    How do you get to put that Young Jeezy trash on par with this unbelieveable opus delivered by Common? Y’all a bunch of jokers anyway – always been, always will.

  • In Your Fucking Face

    XXL For Sure I Still Don’t See Why Yall Dont Give Deserving Albums That Rating. In 5 Years You Will Re-Review And Give Com Sense Another Classic Rating.

  • lll

    Great Album. But does the cover have to have the triangle just so people crazy about Illuminati can trip out?

  • Mr. Wylie

    the reviewer says there are no faults in the album and basically says everything is perfect but then why are lyrics and originality at only an xl? u gave Be a XXL should’ve given one to Finding Forever and now u cheating this one out of a perfect score what the fuck is up with this staff? at this rate nicki minaj and rick ross will get a XXL before the ACTUAL TALENTED artists do

  • Dat Nigga Tim

    This album is an xxl perfect blend of lyrics beats and concept common just set the marquee of what hiphop is about once again!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    Dear XXL,

    Fire that N*&&@ who reviewed this album and send him to paris to listen to N*&&@$ in Paris 17 times in a row. Dude praised the album then rates it an XL.

    Come on son, I know its about politics BUT please if you guys wanna be trendsetting and make history, go back under the hood, review this album again, and OVERTURN his call.

    This album is a NEW CLASSIC.

    We ain’t going back to the 90′s. By todays standards and even compared to the golden era this ablum is so on point. i get that feeling when playing it. I didnt get it with universal mind control. not with finding forever. Like the writer said, Common is comfortable on this joint.

    To give dude lyrics a L, you should shoot yourself. Please change this rating. or stop reviewing albums period. Please.

  • Rap’L


    (The Dreamer/The Believer)
    Warner Bros.
    (c) 2011

    Beats: [XXL]
    [ S ] [ M ] [ L ] [ XL ] [ XXL ]

    Lyrics: [XXL]
    [ S ] [ M ] [ L ] [ XL ] [ XXL ]

    Originality: [XXL]
    [ S ] [ M ] [ L ] [ XL ] [ XXL ]

  • miguel

    who is rating this album this album is a definite XXL the lyrics are XXL the beats are XXL and is original theres nothing out right now like this that is what makes it original this album is a XXL….this is the reason i didn’t renew my subscrition u guys been slacking lately and the source is coming up

  • D-Lloyd

    Is this album a classic or im just too high?

  • hdotlazarus

    The album is incredible man

  • dmxej2

    Are you serious? Only an XL? This album has everything that an XXL rated album should have! Think about one of the most recent albums that you gave an XXL to. Kanye West’s last album. Can you really say that album was better than Common’s? And if you can, then you need a new set of standards for what garners the XXL rating. There is no way in hell that this album does not deserve a XXL. Your credibility wasn’t that high before the rating of this album, but it is definitely shot now.

  • MarshawnJones

    You just cant be handing out XXL to any album.. The Dreamer/Believer was a great album but yall gotta stop complaining about your favourite album not getting XXL yo

  • b

    Is the person who wrote this review completely retarded?
    How can Young Jeezy trash have the same lyrics and overall rating as this? This album is a classic!

  • igotacos

    classic man. this album was almost up to par with tha carter IV.

    Naw jkjk, it approached MBDTF tho, gave it a run 4 its money actually

  • DpaK

    Yeah, deserves a XXL rating for sure.

  • mrgoldrapper

    They will re review the album become its only right just ask them. I know it lol

  • Mossy B 4 Prez

    This album deserved an XXL. Classic heartfelt material from #1 to #12. I don’t know what you guys rate albums for these days. This is a classic. Hands down. One of the best (if not THE BEST) this year.

  • Domo

    Mannnn.. This is My Second Comment I’m Making on a Review of This Album Because its That Dope to Me & Yet Others Seem to Be Not Giving it the Props it Deserve. Common & No I.D Put Together Maybe a Classic & the Only Complaint I Had About it Was That it Was Only 11 Songs.. I Haven’t Listened to an Album This Much Since Cole World..

  • Domo

    Its Definitely* a Classic (idk How I Made That Mistake in My Last Post) Lol..

  • jb

    they dont want to give it an xxl in case its not a classic 5 years from now

  • Real Talk

    Real talk, its between this Undun, and maybe Phonte’s album for AOTY. Hands down

  • ikem namzug

    This album goes back to the basics..raw lyrics and beats some r&b involved in it but either way i agree shoulda been a XXL.

  • Pingback: Common Plans to Drop The Dreamer/The Believer Follow-Up in January 2013 | XXL

  • mwboii

    shudah been xxl.