Common has had quite an impressive career and for someone who many consider a “conscious” rapper he’s managed a good amount of success and acclaim. With a career as long as his, an artist is bound to go through various phases and experiment with a variety of different styles and sounds. His career has done just that and now with Nobody’s Smiling and now Black America Again he seems to be coming full circle, returning to his roots.
With a name like Black America Again I knew I was going to hear some deep, heavy stuff and while I did enjoy some of his earlier works, it wasn’t until Kanye stepped in with Be that I really became a fan and appreciated Common’s work. It was his most interesting production, without compromising his sound. Black America Again however, is a return to his basics; drums, jazz textures, and soul. It’s not boring by any stretch of the imagination, but it is sedated and emotional. It’s heavy production that I think would have benefited from a few less tracks, but there are some absolute gems there with “Little Chicago Boy”, “Black America Again”, and “Pyramids” (my god).
“A nigga told me only rhyme for 19-year-olds Nigga, you should rhyme wherever the spirit goes Here it goes, lyrical miracles These are pyramids from the imperial”
Common’s delivery on Black America Again is just as emotional as the production itself. You can hear the anger, hurt, and pride as he takes aim at some of the biggest issues and questions facing America and black Americans today. He delivers all these dense verses in his trademark spoken word style that really emphasizes what he’s saying. But I will say at times it can feel a bit heavy handed and preachy, a feeling he just overcomes at times with the sheer passion in which he delivers his words.
“Endangered in our own habitat The guns and dope, man, y’all can have it back As a matter of fact, we them lab rats You build the projects for, now you want your hood back I guess if you could rap, you would express it too”
Have you heard Black America Again? What’d you think about it? Do you think it’s messages were too heavy handed? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the album.