This album was released on September 10th this year. I’ve never reviewed a Common album before, but I think almost all of his albums are good. With that said, I wouldn’t say that I love any of his albums. I wouldn’t call any of them “great.” They’re just really good at best to me. I think Common is a really talented MC, but he just kinda fails to capture my attention sometimes. I didn’t really care for the first entry in this A Beautiful Revolution series. I didn’t think it was bad. It was an okay album. I liked some tracks from it. I didn’t love any of them though. I’m hoping this second installment will have better highlights and be more consistent across the board. I doubt it’ll be my favorite Common album, but I don’t think it’ll be bad. Every track is produced by Karriem Riggins.
The album begins with Push Out the Noise, which is an intro performed by Jessica Care Moore. I love this track honestly. I think the melodic production is really pretty, and I’ve always been a fan of Jessica Care Moore’s Spoken Word performances. She sounds great over this beat.
A few moments right before the sun sets when summer returns after winter wept
Tears become a necessary blessing, a holy water for the forgotten
We are praying to any ancestor listening
Ain't we always been a amplified joy?
A boombox altered for the descendants of drums and water bearers
A gathering of souls
A sanctuary surrounded by natural springs, the bling of butterflies
Headphone escape route, a survivor's anthem plays on
Someone will tell them, "We are still alive"
We fight inside the music on our own land
Built from ancestral memory and questions
The production is dope as hell, and Jessica killed it in my opinion. I think it’s a great intro. The following track is entitled A Beautiful Chicago. I really like the funky production from Karriem Riggins on this track. The first verse from Common is cool, and I even kinda like the hook from PJ. I think the second verse from Common is a lot better than his first one to be honest.
I found solace sittin' in my own cottage
There I had to acknowledge where I'm not polished
Juiced up by the queen, a green goddess
The less I move, the more I know where God is
Times is hard, so I had to come the hardest
We gon' work it out, still pray for the jobless
Still be on Cottage, still be on Stoney
When I'm at the crib, some say you still owe me
I liked his flow on this verse a lot. Overall, I think the song is very good. It’s followed by When We Move, which features a verse from Black Thought and vocals from Seun Kuti. I think the opening verse from Common is very good. The production unfortunately didn’t really leave much of an impression on me. I wouldn’t say the beat is bad though. It just doesn’t really capture my attention much. Black Thought thankfully had a really great verse on this track. I mean, it’s far from the best I’ve heard from him, but he definitely surpassed Common in my opinion. The vocals on the hook from Seun Kuti are solid too. Overall, I think this is another very good song. Again, the production was kind of underwhelming, but the rapping was very good. Track 6 is entitled Poetry, and I think the production on it is pretty cool. I also think the folksy vocals on the hook from Marcus King are pretty great. The first verse from Common is cool, and the second one is definitely even better. The production did get slightly old to me by the time the song ended, but overall I still really like the song. I think it’s pretty good. It’s followed by a highlight for me entitled Saving Grace. This one has a really nice, soulful beat, and a fantastic feature from Brittany Howard. She sounds amazing on the hook, and her verse is really good too. The opening verse from Common is also very good. There’s really nothing about the song that I don’t like. I think it’s really dope, and easily one of the best songs on the album. It’s followed by Star of the Gang, which I think has one of Common’s best performances on the album. I think he raps really fucking well on this track. Unfortunately the production doesn’t really leave much of an impression on me, and same goes for the hook from PJ, but they’re tolerable. The main appeal of the song is just Common’s rapping for me. I think the first verse is dope, and the second one is even better.
Gods and monsters, odds to conquer
Squads with contra, bars and mantras
With my palms up, I ponder
Am I a son of Ghana or the one that squanders?
I'm glad I seen Bianca, she reminded me
No matter how far I go, to keep findin' me
Overall, I think the song is very good. The following track is called Imagine, and it’s also pretty good.
I think the production kinda sounds like something from an 80s Pop song, which is cool. The hook from PJ is solid, and the rapping from Common is pretty good. The content kinda reminds me of If I Ruled the World by Nas.
We no longer targets or bodies on the market
Clean water coming out of Flint’s faucets, it’s awesome
Not being petty, but got petty cash
Everything on the path we already have
Imagine having a woman like Betty Shabazz
Steady with class, ready to blast ’til the chariots pass
To take me to my new destination
I think in miracles, it’s my imagination
It’s definitely not one of my favorite songs on the album, but I did enjoy it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. The penultimate track is entitled Get It Right, and it has a pretty great feature from Raphael Saadiq on the hook. I actually really like the groovy production too, and I think Common’s rapping on both of the verses is really great.
Now we talk helpin' Black businesses
And our differences is magnificence
Bringin' light to the poor and where the prisons is
I was told good life is where forgiveness lives
The ascension is to leave what's left behind
And feed the seeds with deeds that bless the mind
Caress the mind and question just defined
When youth and God and time are best aligned
This is easily one of the best tracks on the album in my opinion. I think it’s really dope. The closing track is an outro entitled Exclamation Point. It’s more Spoken Word, but this time it’s performed by Morgan Parker. I don’t think she’s as good as Jessica Care Moore, but her performance was still solid. I’m mainly impressed by the production to be honest. I think the instrumental is really great. It’s a pretty good outro overall in my opinion. Anyway, those are all the songs that I actually like, so now I’ll discuss the tracks that I won’t be returning to. Track 4 is entitled Set It Free, and I think it’s very underwhelming. I swear to god, the first time it played it literally went in one ear and out the other. It’s like when you’re reading a book and you get down a page and suddenly realize that you weren’t paying attention to a single word that you read. That’s what listening to this song was like for me. The production is pretty smooth, and PJ’s vocals on the hook aren’t bad at all. The song is just too loungy for me. It’s honestly really boring. Common’s verses are super well-written, but his flow and delivery are just so straightforward and bland that it makes the experience pretty boring as a whole. I think the song is very mediocre overall. Track 5 is called Majesty (Where We Gonna Take It), and I actually think the production is pretty good here.
The sung hook from PJ sounds very poppy, but it’s well-performed I suppose. I thought the first verse from Common was okay. Some of the lines were just a little corny to me.
We can find a hideaway Where you can do yoga and be on your namaste I'm a modern-day, Renaissance, royal peace of work Been working on myself, girl, you can see the work
The second verse is thankfully much more tolerable. Overall, the only aspect of the song that I really enjoyed to some extent was the production. However, I don’t think anything about the song is especially bad in any way. It’s an okay track to me.
I actually think this is a pretty good album. I think it’s a big step up from the first album, which was just kinda boring to me. I don’t think the production from Karriem Riggins is that great on this project, and PJ isn’t one of my favorite vocalists, but Common’s rapping is pretty good throughout this album for the most part. This isn’t one of my favorite albums of the year, but I did enjoy it to some extent overall. Honestly, it’s better than I thought it would be. I think it’s a good album.