Today in Hip Hop History: December 20th, 2011
The Dreamer/The Believer by Common
Today in Hip hop history marks the four year anniversary to Common’s ninth studio album, The Dreamer, The Believer. A very heartfelt and soulful album, Chicago legend and producer No I.D. solely took care of the production taking three years to release.
“It’s going to be positive hip-hop. Hip-hop that can really generate good spirit, the spirit of the music and just good energy,” says Common during a TheBoomBox interview. Good spirited it was, as proven by a poem Maya Angelou made for the album on the first track:
“Once you find your shoulders dropping
And your speech gets slow and hazy
You better change your way of being
Before you found your brain got lazy
You can build a better future when you join the winning team
If you desire a bright tomorrow, you must build a brighter dream
Dare to let your dreams reach beyond you
Know that history holds more than it seems
We are here alive today because our ancestors dared to dream
From Africa they lay in the bilge of slave ships
And stood half naked on auction blocks
From eastern-Europe they crowded in vessels overloaded with immigrants
And were misnamed on Ellis Island
From South America and Mexico, from Asia, they labored in sweat shops
From all over the world, they came to America
Many shivering in rags, and still they dared to dream
Let us dream for today and for tomorrow
Let us dare to dream”
With a little bit of history, a little bit of soul, and a little bit of heart, The Dreamer, The Believer was met with positive reviews and mild amounts of controversy. Amongst starting a beef with Drake from a single that shamed rappers who sang, the album was also criticized by Angelou herself stating that Common’s usage of the “N” word was “vulgar and dangerous” yet she still had respect “because he wasn’t singing the line of least resistance.”
The Dreamer, The Believer was commercially successful, debuting at the number 18 spot on US Billboard’s top 200 and selling 69,000 copies within its first week.
A genuine creation, the album was the beginning and end of many paths. Like Illmatic, there will never, ever be another The Dreamer, The Believer.
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high”
Like Maya Angelou herself, The Dreamer, The Believer will forever be an introspective wonder to look upon and be inspired by.