Common is easily among one of the most respected rappers in the game. His contributions to Midwest rap, specifically the Chicago scene, are gargantuan. July 22, 2014 sees the release of the MC’s 10th studio album, Nobody’s Smiling. In celebration of Common’s enduring career, here’s a list of favorite songs from Common’s seven post-2000 albums; Common’s career has been most successful since 2000.
Here some stats, prior to Nobody’s Smiling:
- One #1 album: Finding Forever
- Two top 10 albums: Finding Forever, Be (#2)
- Five top 20 albums: Like Water for Chocolate (#16), Be, Finding Forever, Universal Mind Control (#12), and The Dreamer / The Believer (#18)
1) “The Light” from Water for Chocolate (2000)
“Queen, I ain’t seen you in a minute / Wrote this letter, and finally decided to send it / Signed sealed delivered for us to grow together / love has no limit, let’s spend it slow forever” (Verse 1)
Well produced, soulful, and incredibly memorable, “The Light” ranks among Common’s very best. “The Light” would peak at #44 on the Hot 100 – not bad for an MC not exactly known as a commercial juggernaut.
2) “Come Close” featuring Mary J. Blige from Electric Circus (2002)
“Come close to me baby / let your love hold you / I know this world is crazy / what’s it without you” (MJB, hook)
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how long Pharrell Williams has been churning out the hits. Williams co-wrote and produced this silky smooth with his partner in crime Chad Hugo (The Neptunes). Throw in the soulful, always classy Mary J. Blige along with Common’s thoughtful rhymes, and “Come Close” is another top-rate Common joint.
Oh and by the way, Electric Circus didn’t sell…
3) “The Corner” featuring The Last Poets from Be (2005)
“Reality’s a b*tch, and I heard that she bites / the corner” (Verse 2)
With album Be, Common made exactly the right album at the right time. Not only was the album spot on after the lackadaisical sales of Electric Circus, Common released a brilliant first single in “The Corner.” And Oh yeah, Common definitely owes producer Kanye West one on this killer joint.
4) “The People” featuring Dwele from Finding Forever (2007)
“Law we ain’t trustin’ them, thick broads we lust in them / sick and tired of punchin’ it, I look on the bus at them / when I see them struggling, I think how much I’m touchin’ them / the people” (Common, Verse 1)
Finding Forever was another excellent album from Common, though not as exceptional as Be. Still loaded, choosing just one favorite is tough (“Drivin’ Me Wild” was awesome). That said, “The People” definitely represents Common doing Common – the MC stays and owns his lane without a hitch.
5) “Universal Mind Control” featuring Pharrell Williams from Universal Mind Control (2008)
“I touch the masses like a Catholic / expensive rap sh*t, my future’s backlit / interact with the cat who macks and stacks / my vernac attracts y’all react – so let’s go” (Verse 1, Common)
Being honest, Universal Mind Control was a weak Common album – can’t believe such blasphemous words are being typed here. Basically, Common switched up the formula, which is both understandable and respectable, but not his strong suit. Still, Universal Mind Control had some fine moments, among them the title track. “Universal Mind Control” itself wasn’t a total bust – it did peak at #62 on the Hot 100.
6) “Ghetto Dreams” featuring Nas from The Dreamer / The Believer (2011)
“The type of b*tch that BIG said he would die for / is the type that I ride to stay alive for…” (Verse 1, Common)
The Dreamer / The Believer was a return to form following the detour that was Universal Mind Control. That said, the album was stacked with hits, with Nas collaboration “Ghetto Dreams” leading the charge. What’s shameful is that the album itself didn’t sell better than it did.
7) “Kingdom” featuring Vince Staples from Nobody’s Smiling (2014)
“Second row of the church with my hood on / my homie use to rap, he was about to get put on / at his funeral, listening to this church song / his family yelling and screaming, I hurt for ‘em” (Common, Verse 1)
Common stays on the ‘straight and narrow’ on his tenth album, Nobody’s Smiling. One of Common’s best albums of the post-2000 era, five out of the 10 songs stood out in. The winner by a nose from Common’s latest effort is “Kingdom,” which is nothing short of a juggernaut. On an album characterized by real talk and meaningful subject matter, “Kingdom” epitomizes that sentiment.