Common has always been a socially conscious rapper. He spoke about justice and politics at a time when it wasn’t popular to do so. So, many people may think his 11th studio album, Black America Again, is militant. In fact, this album is less aggressive than its predecessor, the underrated classic, Nobody’s Smiling. However, the inspiration that brought him to this point is new and fresh. His activism is as cleverly appropriate as ever. He’s more than the “nice guy” that has dated his share of celebrity beauties (Erykah Badu, Serena Williams and Taraji P. Henson). He’s more than just socially aware. He’s thought provoking and brilliantly in tune with his surroundings.
“Home” appears early on in the tracklist for Black America Again. This track captures the essence of his early days, with a thumping drum line that won’t let him. Bilal also contributes his vocals to the track (and several other songs on the album). In fact, Common has quite a few guest stars to help him relay his message. Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Marsha Ambrosius join in for the audible activism. He keeps the momentum going on the title track, “Black America Again” with the aforementioned Stevie Wonder. He runs down several of the recent events that have been sensationalized (and in his words, downplayed) by the media.
“Love Star” is one of the few songs that takes a break from his conscious message to let love in. This slow jam is sure to be a fan favorite and radio hit. “Red Wine” takes it a step further with its seductive, trance inducing vibe. As expected, he collaborates with John Legend again for another award worth recording called “Rain”. The song has an instant vintage vibe that feels triumphant. As if that wasn’t enough, “Letter To The Free”, sums up the essence of the entire album. Plus, the song was written for Ava Duvernay’s film 13th.
Black America Again is less about anger and more about peace. The lyrics recount events and plead for a resolution. New fans who will hear Common for the first time on Black America Again, welcome to the party. For those that have always been a fan of his music, this is another great addition to his eclectic catalog.