Veteran rapper Common apparently is not one to rest easily on his laurels. From his most well-known role as a rapper, to his work on the small and big screen (including starring in ads for major companies), he definitely has kept himself busy throughout his career. Ever since releasing his debut album Can I Borrow a Dollar? in 1992, the rapper has allowed at most, three years between each album and as little as one year. Considering it all, one can’t help but wonder how Common has kept going, but he definitely has, and his latest album A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 proves that. Released just over a year after the release of his then latest album Let Love, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is another impressive, strong new offering. That is thanks equally to its musical and lyrical content. Each item will be discussed shortly. The sequencing of that content brings everything full circle, completing the album’s presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Common’s new album. All things considered, they make the album another welcome addition to his already extensive catalog that audiences new and old alike will enjoy.
Common’s latest full-length studio recording is another impressive addition to what is already an extensive, enjoyable catalog of albums. That is proven in part through the album’s collective musical content. Common took a familiar route in this album in terms of its musical arrangements. Rather than use extensive electronics, sampling and everything else that so many of today’s rappers use, Common opted once again to use a combination of familiar R&B and jazz influences for the album’s musical bed. Case in point is the musical arrangement at the base of ‘A Riot in My Mind.’ The song starts off with a gentle jazz guitar composition before giving way to an old school hip-hop style beat. The jazz guitar even turns more modern in its stylistic approach in order to match the hip-hop base. By comparison, the hip-hop musical arrangement at the center of ‘Say Peace’ takes audiences back to the 90s right from the song’s outset. There is a subtle guitar line incorporated into the song, but the beats form the majority of the song’s foundation. It is a distinctly different approach from that of ‘A Riot in My Mind.’ ‘Courageous’ meanwhile presents audiences another distinctly different arrangement to keep things interesting. The light piano-driven arrangement does incorporate its own solid beat throughout. What is important to note here is that unlike the album’s other musical arrangements, this one is more of a pop style composition that also uses a touch of jazz alongside. It makes for what is one of the album’s most unique musical compositions, and yet another example of thee importance of the album’s musical content. It in itself generates plenty of appeal for listeners. It is just one of the elements that makes the album so appealing. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own share of enjoyment and engagement.
The lyrical content that is presented throughout A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is important because of its accessibility. For the most part, the record’s lyrical content is very socially conscious. There are mentions of the Black Lives Matter protests here as well as mentions of politicians and their empty words. There are also mentions about police brutality against the African-American community at various points. This is content to which so many listeners will connect. It is not all that listeners will like in regards to the record’s lyrical content, though. Common also offers up a pair of songs in ‘Courageous’ and ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ that will connect with an even wider range of listeners. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ opens clearly with the message pointed out in its title, with guest vocalist Paris Jones singing, “Don’t forget who you are/You’re blessed with it/Baby, so marvelous/No one like you/Just look around/Yeah, you’re too strong to turn around.” Common adds in the song’s lead verse, “Beautiful, baby/I love you, baby/Pray these words may hug you, baby/Look into the mirror and say, “I love you” daily/Remember your light when the world seems shady/You’re born with it/Adorned with it/A gift to the world/Go on/Give it/Fearlessly made/No need to be afraid/Angels are with you/The path is laid/Wade in thoughts of you being the star/Truly you’ll shine/By seeing who you are/Reflections of you/Reflections of me/The beauty more than any eyes can see.” This comes across as a parent talking to a child, reminding that child of his/her greatness. This is a message that transcends racial and cultural divides. It is a message that every parent needs to communicate with children. The song’s second verse follows in similar fashion, keeping the positive energy flowing, and in turn making or even more enjoyment.
‘Courageous’ follows a similar path as it presents its theme of self-confidence. The song opens with its chorus, which finds Jones singing, “I’m all here in the flesh/You can take it or not/I’m not claiming/Pretending to be what I’m not/I ain’t nobody’s angel/We in this world that is changing/Who you are/Just embrace it/Stay courageous.” This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the song and ensures immediately, listeners’ engagement and enjoyment. Common follows in the song’s lead verse, stating, “Unapologetic/unashamed with it/Times in life/I came with it/When the unseen became vivid/Of different flesh/Same spirit/It’s like a lyric by Stevie Wonder/Through the inner visions/You can see the wonder/Spent time in life being in the run up/Couldn’t run from what I’ve seen this summer/Trying to understand where we are in time/Looking at the world/Keeping God in mind/I know it’s a peace that’s hard to find/I went out there and found mine inside/I’m alive on arrival/My life is more than survival/You can live and be live, too/That’s how heaven will describe you.” He adds in the song’s second verse, “Look life in the eye/I can see clearer/A kingdom’s coming/You can hear it near us/Stay close to the sincerest/Those the ones that became mirrors/Speak no hate/Let love hear us/Times I’m me/Is when I was fearless/There’s a self I gotta take care of/So with the world/I can truly share love/And be a bearer of fruit on the planet/Guided steps I don’t take for granted/Time is manic/We internalize/Honor that little boy or little girl inside/Pray these words’ll rise to the ears of angels/We let go of fears/That we came through/Change is beautiful as it is painful/The world is yours/Don’t let it change you/Don’t let it change you.” This continues the tone set in the song’s chorus and lead verse. It is straight forward in its presentation. It reminds listeners to be the best that they can and live the best they can, and to take confidence in themselves. It is another positive message that is sure to connect with listeners just as much as the album’s other socially-minded lyrical themes. Speaking of those other themes, when they are considered wit the positive themes presented here and in ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are,’ the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When it is considered with the album’s musical content, that collective material makes the album in whole that much more appealing. They are still only a portion of what makes the album a success. The content’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1is important to the album’s presentation because it ensures the album’s energy is balanced throughout in its songs. It succeeds in doing this, too. It starts easy and relaxed in its first two songs before picking up in ‘Say Peace.’ That slightly increased energy runs through the album’s next entry, ‘What Do You Say’ before pulling back again in ‘Courageous.’ It is not until two songs later, ‘A Riot in my Head,’ that the album’s energy picks up again. What is important here is that the crescendo in that energy is gradual, rather than immediate. It is kind of the album’s (and Common’s) way of gradually picking things back up again. This showed clear thought into the album’s sequencing so as to keep listeners’ entertained and engaged. The album’s last two songs are relaxed, with the energy gradually declining just as much as it rose prior. Looking back through it all, the sequencing of Common’s new record ensures the album’s energy is stable from start to end. Its energy rises and falls at all of the right points and just enough. When this is considered along with the album’s collective content, the record in whole proves to be a successful new offering from one of rap and hip-hop’s most justifiably respected artists.
Common’s new album A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is a successful new offering from the veteran rapper than audiences will enjoy from beginning to end. That is proven in pat through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question follow a familiar path from Common’s past albums but still keep things fresh for listeners. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements are easily accessible without being forceful, either. That is another plus. The content’s sequencing puts the final touch to the album’s presentation. It ensures the energy in the album’s arrangements keeps listeners engaged and entertained. Each item examined here is important in its own way to A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1. All things considered, they make the album a work that rap and hip-hop fans will enjoy just as much as Common’s established fan base. A Beautiful revolution Pt. 1 is available now.
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