Common - Nobody's Smiling

By Christina Croucher

Released July 22nd, 2014 - UMusic

I have listened to the tenth studio album from CommonNobody's Smiling a fair few times, each time trying to find something that really adheres me to at least one of the songs on the album; said by Common to be inspired by the violence and high crime rate in Common's hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Although, despite the seasoned rappers successful and colourful music career and the many featured guest appearance( Lil Herb, Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, Snoh Aalegra, Dreezy, Elijah Blake, Vince Staples and Cocaine 80s), I haven't connected to the power that this album was meant to pack.
I was disappointed by the over processed vocal line to open track one, The Neighbourhood and found it a weak entrance to the album. I progressed to push rewind twice by the middle of track two but found the awkwardly phrased No Fear kept reminding me of a rapper far less experienced than Common.

Despite Commons intention and portrayal of Chicago's problematic violence I found the lyrical content somewhat lacking as the substance and meaning was muddied into verses with the typical, cringe-worthy rap fillers; with the beats not ground breaking enough to make up for it. To be fair, the whole album is probably brimming with empowerment and veracity but I felt I had to dig too deep to hear it.

Now, despite the first half of the album lacking presence I felt the album was almost reborn so to speak at track nine, with one of the albums singles, Kingdom featuring Vince Staples. Lyrically I felt the albums concept was finally backed up, with verses splayed with integrity and drive for change. 
From here, the album continues to progress to the end with more rhythmic variety, interesting samples and more texture and dynamics with the vocalists.

Nobody's Smiling is an album that has been labelled as inspiring and was created with a purpose by this well respected rapper, but I won't be playing this on repeat.

2.5 / 5