Common gets the blues on 'The Dreamer/The Believer'
Early on in Common's "The Dreamer/The Believer," the Chicago-bred rapper goes after those he believes are "too soft" on "Sweet," targeting those he sees as putting too much of an emphasis on singing rather than rapping. Yet two tracks later, Common goes all "808s & Heartbreak" himself with "Lovin' I Lost," a Curtis Mayfield-referencing slow-jam.
"Is this our new forever?" Common asks throughout the track, wondering whether he'll be permanently alone. If Common doesn't quite sing on the dusty, soul-inspired song, he does get awfully reflective. As he reminisces about a dead relationship, he asks, "How could someone you could talk to, each and every day, that you about to marry, be on their merry way?"
"That song is like a blues song," Common said when asked about the track earlier this month. The song was one of the last written for "The Dreamer/The Believer," and Common admitted he bared his soul for it.
"It hurts when you’re not with that person, when it’s just not working out," Common said. "The song is about trying to figure out if it can work out -- the going back and forth and being in love and not being there the way you should be. That’s a tough feeling."
Among the songs from "The Dreamer/The Believer" he's been performing live, Common said "Lovin' I Lost" has been getting some of the biggest reactions from the crowd. The rapper attributed that to the imagery in the lyrics, such as the moment of having to remove the photos of an ex from around the house.
"These honest songs resonate the most with people," he said. "The ones where the songwriter is writing from their experience and isn’t writing to please the audience, where you’re just writing because you’ve got to get it out of you.
"It’s like therapy for me. It was healing for me to write this. When you tell that story from an honest place, someone listening can understand. Every time when I finish playing that song, I talk about the difficulty in calling your family members and the difficulty in taking down pictures. People laugh because they’ve been through that."
So, is Common willing to admit he can be a little "soft" himself?
"It is necessary sometimes to release emotions," he said. "It is necessary to release what you feel, especially if you can do it in a way that’s done through music or art or acting. Look, it's more productive to do it in one of those ways than it is to go out and take it out on someone else."
-- Todd Martens
Image: Common. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times