Common – “A Beautiful Revolution 2” review

Common is a 49 year old MC, actor & writer from Chicago, Illinois who first emerged 3 decades back by being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source back in the publication’s heyday & resulted in a 3-album deal with Relativity Records shortly after. Can I Borrow a Dollar? was a solid debut even though you can tell that he still hadn’t come into his own yet, but embraced the conscious hip hop that became universally known for with his next 2 albums Resurrection & One Day It’ll All Make Sense. However once we entered the new millennium, Common ended up signing to MCA Records for 2 albums: his magnum opus Like Water for Chocolate & the experimental Electric Circus. The label then dissolved at the beginning of 2003 & he jumped ship to G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen Records. His debut under Kanye West’s then-newly formed label Be received universal acclaim, but Finding Forever was a respectable follow-up & I can’t really say the same for the hip house-centered Universal Mind Control. After his contract with G.O.O.D./Geffen was fulfilled, he decided to reunite with No I.D. & drop The Dreamer/The Believer under Warner Records before Immenslope was granted his own Def Jam Recordings imprint ARTium Recordings. Nobody’s Smiling was a great response to the ever-increasing crime rate in his hometown & the Karriem Riggins-produced Black America Again was even greater given that it was revolves around the 2016 presidential election. But it’s safe to say that Common has been making himself home at Loma Vista Recordings & sticking with Karriem on the production end of things these last couple years, as proven on his previous album Let Love & his debut EP A Beautiful Revolution. However with the 1-year anniversary of the latter approaching at the end of next month, the Chicago/Detroit emcee/producer duo are dropping a sequel in the form of Com’s 13th full-length outing.

After the “Push Out the Noise” intro, the first song “A Beautiful Chicago Kid” is a funky kickstart to the album saying he manifests everything that you see whereas “When We Move” with Black Thought has a groovy instrumental talking about the world following their path. “Set It Free” has a more summery vibe talking about being you just before “Majesty (Where We Gonna Take It?)” serves as a seductive love tune.

Meanwhile on “Poetry”, we have these twangy guitar licks with Com advising to never question the motive leading into the boom bap-tinged “Saving Grace” with the lyrics of course getting spiritual. “Star of the Gang” keeps the dusty drums in motion saying he’s fortunate even though he’s been through a lot while the penultimate song “Imagine” speaks on a paradise over a sample of “Imaginary Playmates” by René & Angela. And before the “!” outro, “Get It Right” ends the album on an uptempo note saying be patient because good things happen in time.

As much as I enjoyed the predecessor, I think the sequel is better. In comparison to the EP tackling all the bullshit that transpired in 2020, the full-length sequel picks up right where things left off & provides the listeners optimism for a brighter day which is perfect given that states are opening back up completely.

Score: 4/5

Common – “A Beautiful Revolution” review

This is the brand new EP from Chicago veteran Common. Coming up with off his first 3 albums in the 90’s produced entirely by No I.D., he then made his major label debut in 2000 with Like Water for Chocolate & followed up with the experimental Electric Circus in 2002. Then during the mid 2000s, he released a trilogy of albums with Kanye West’s GOOD Music beginning with Be, bridged by Finding Forever & then ending with Universal Mind Control. In the 2010s, we saw Com reuniting with No I.D. on The Dreamer/The Believer & Nobody’s Smiling. However, he started working closely with Karriem Riggins on Black America Again in 2016 as well as Let Love last summer. But with the presidential election coming up next week, Com & Karriem are back with A Beautiful Revolution.

After the intro, the first song “Fallin’” talks about how black people aren’t actually free over a mellow beat whereas the next track “Say Peace” with Black Thought sees the 2 talking about racism over a dub/boom bap fusion. The song “What Do You Say? (Move It Baby)” gets romantic over a funky beat while the track “Courageous” talks about meaning of such over a piano & live drums. The song “A Place in this World” gets optimistic over a luxurious beat while the track “A Riot in My Mind” talks about internal conflict over some live drums & guitars. The before the outro, the final song “Don’t Forget Who You Are” talks about self-worth over a joyous beat.

Personally, I think this is just what we needed to hear in light of the election. Karriem’s production is as beautiful as ever & the commentary that Common makes is very much relevant that what’s been going on all year.

Score: 3.5/5

August Greene – Self-titled review

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August Greene is a newly formed supergroup consisting of Chicago MC Common, Detroit producer Karriem Riggins & Houston jazz pianist Robert Glasper. The 3 have worked extensively on Common’s last album Black America Again in Late 2016, but now they are coming together for an official full-length album.

The opener “Meditation” talks about how the trio can’t fall over a mellow instrumental & the next song “Black Kennedy” is a vivid description of just that over a jazzy piano instrumental. The track “Let’s Go” gets spiritual over a soothing beat while the song “Practice” insightfully talks about life itself over a piano & punchy drums. The track “Fly Away” talks about relationships over a tribal beat while “Aya” is a soothing 4 minute instrumental with a piano & beautiful background vocals.

After the “Piano” interlude, we go into the track “No Apologies”. Here, Com gets conscious over a super funky beat. The song “The Time” sees Common reflecting on his entire career with an instrumental that has a soothing atmosphere to it while the penultimate track “Optimistic” with Brandy is a decent cover of the Sounds of Blackness song with the same name. The album closes with “Swisha Suite”, which is a relaxing 12 minute jam session.

While I wasn’t expecting this, it’s still a great album. The production from Karriem & Robert is just as jazzy & laidback as Black America Again & Common’s lyricism is as insightful as ever before. However, I wish there were about 3 more tracks on here if possible. I’d definitely love to hear a follow-up from them in the future

Score: 4/5