Common: Nobody's Smiling (Def Jam/Artium) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, February 24th, 2024  

Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-JCommon

Nobody’s Smiling

Def Jam/Artium

Sep 22, 2014 Common Bookmark and Share

Something strange happened to hip-hop in the past decade: the genre’s most conscious artists, once considered incendiary, somehow became legacy artists. In that process, most of them lost their foundation-threatening cachet and became a strangely omnipresent part of the establishment. You’ll see Common more often looking imposing and world-weary in Hollywood flicks than dealing eviscerating lyrical blows or ecstatic treatises. With the likes of Kanye West, Chief Keef, and Chance the Rapper deftly re-defining what it means to rap in the Second City, does the man who stopped the genre in its tracks with Be and Like Water for Chocolate have anything left to say?

As it turns out, yes. Nobody’s Smiling sees the 42-year-old mining his hometown’s infamous gang and murder rate issues in the service of edgy songs whose No I.D.-driven production fits adeptly in conversation with the beats dominating contemporary hip-hop. Guest stars like Big Sean and Jhené Aiko step aside to let Common’s lyrical dexterity take the spotlight, which he uses to drop thorny verses whose wisdom reveals itself with repeat listens. He plays sage over his beloved hometown’s ills, offering seriousness to problems that are easy to diminish and ignore, and proving himself once again to have not lost much of the fire that originally made him so compelling. (

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 0/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.