Nobody’s Smiling is Common’s comeback in an age where Chicago’s hip hop scene is incredibly active and furthermore has a negative image centered around violence. In this joint he grazes the topic of the suffering of Chicagoans due to crime, drugs, and violence. Such parts are the highlight of the album, in contrast to most of the rest of it.
“The Neighborhood”, “Kingdom”, “No Fear”, “Nobody’s Smiling” (the song), all embody the spirit of the album. They carry much of the weight of the album. These songs are stories or settings that give a vivid view of the street life in Chicago, and the real feelings of someone personally dealing with it. Lil Herb’s verse is the ideal representation. In the opening tracks he supercedes Common with so much heart, in a way that cannot be described. You’d have to hear his voice. Even beyond such delivery, lines like
draw empathy from listeners.
The filler is hardly as impressive as a whole. There are decent moments, though, such as “Hustle Harder” which is the typical “yeah she’s the baddest chick” type of track. Common showcases a lot more flair and flow in that track than most of the rest of the album. The song as a whole (including Dreezy’s verse) has a sassy groove to it. The premise bears familiarity to fellow Chicagoan MC Tree’s song “Uh Million.” In the filler part of the album, Common also swings a decent braggadose with “Blak Majik” and “Speak My Piece”. The former features some aight melodic spitting from Jhene Aiko.
It only gets worse from there. The other unthemed moments are simply painful. “Diamonds” just seems to be put in to include a former labelmate. Sean’s chorus is light on the catchy, and heavy on the annoying with the wailing and cartoony yelps. The song as a whole just doesn’t earn its existence. Even Common’s bars come across as dull and uninspired, as forecasted by his opening line:
They come across this way in a lot of parts throughout the album too, not just “Diamonds”. In “Rewind That” despite the emotional connection to the topic, he struggles with parts of his verses, sounding like an amateur.
A lot of the young rap features shined over the vet. As previously stated, Lil Herb did his thing with the delivery; Malik Yusef showed off killer wordplay with his spoken word; Vince Staples’ verse was rhythmically impressive. Non-coincidentally, these are among the best songs on the album and fit into the main idea behind Nobody’s Smiling. In interest of “quality control” one could say this album was better off as a 4-track EP that focused on the theme. The extra songs just weigh it down to mediocrity.
Nobody’s Smiling gives a slight breeze from its peak.
Favorites: “Kingdom” “The Neighborhood”
Terrible Songs: “Diamonds” “Diamonds” “Diamonds” and “Diamonds”
DC/Maryland hip-hop artists Cal Rips and Suede Moccasins team up to create something major. Cal Rips is a vet in the scene. Cal is also a member of the Kool Klux Klan, a collective out the DMV area that has consistently maintained relevance in the area and is claims a massive amount of talent. He’s known for consistently smashing verses in features. On the other hand, you’ve got Suede Moccasins, a Frozen 10-awarded producer who has crafted many of the most impressive instrumentals in the past couple of years. You put it together.
The artist formerly known as Brandyn Jaye finally puts together his first project post new moniker. With the name change comes a whole new style to match. Several songs come with a gothic feeling, much akin to his genius dual single Second Circle/Angel. But then it also wavers back into his original, less-dark style.
SO ICEY BOY
The “Nike Boy” music video is a conscious shaking bewildering piece that deserves the upmost merit. E.U and Unkle Luc create something that is characterized by E.U’s persona and mimics the aura of the song.
Madagascar coming soon.
I respect and share good music. Here are some songs that glide above the sea of singles being thrown across on the internet through links, that you need to be aware of. These tracks foreshadow a flood of bar-setting music voming in the near future.
OXYxMORON – “You Don’t Know”
Well you should. The past couple of years Oxy has been laying down some truly excellent music. In this recent pocket of history they have been one of the best hip-hop acts out, and this song is no exception. “You Don’t Know” is a triumphant return, that’s just so bright and exciting as a hero’s welcome. The song has the power to turn crowds of listeners into choirs.
Lord Byron – “0 Grams Fat”
Byron switches up the style to create this kingpin-steelo soaked banger. Byron exemplifies the presence of a don by giving game over this anxious, squealing, rock-inspired instrumental. The song carries a sort of edginess and intensity that’s not only different from Byron’s previous work, but from everything else. Short, heavy, and catchy… Let’s see what Byron comes up with next.
Ciscero – “Never Make It”
Ciscero teams up with the rap superhuman, Sir EU, to denounce the evils of “hating on your homies”, and proclaim his impending ascension to success. Subdaio produces something surreal and phasey for them to rap on, with the use of watery synths. The sound results in a dark and reflective imagery. Meanwhile, Ciscero’s verse showcases a climaxing aggression with champion rhythm; EU opens with some heavily rhyme-laden bars and some deep expressionism.
Chicago’s own Mick Jenkins has something for you. An interesting concept album themed around the truth, represented as H2O-the essential chemical for all living beings. “The Water[s]” showcases Jenkins’ skill in syntactic manipulation, aggressive rapping, and underlying conscious messages.