Dear Rashid,

You fell off. That Universal Mind Control album? Garbage. And that shit hurt my heart. Your career trajectory was inspiring, to say the least. Fifteen years after your debut, you were just reaching the apex of your powers circa Be. Prior to that, you’d released one of the most adventurous albums in modern hip-hop history, Electric Circus. Props for that one, too. But man, listening to you spit over warmed over Neptunes beats…it was like if LL had jumped from “Mama Said Knock You Out” to “Exit 13” in four years instead of fifteen.

I have high hopes for your new album, The Dreamer, The Believer. Why? Because I know you’re talented, and you obviously have an axe to grind. Some of the best art is made by people with an underdog mentality. Also, because No I.D. is behind the boards, and I’ll take him over Skateboard P any day (especially a past-his-prime Skateboard P.) This new video, for “Sweet”? It’s OK, I guess. I like the cinematography. Nice touch to film in Haiti, I suppose. The song itself? It’s been a while since we’ve heard an angry Common, so that’s cool. But how hard can you be these days? You’re pushing 40. You starred in a major motion picture with Queen Latifah. You playing the hard role is kinda like ME playing the hard role when I haven’t even been in a fistfight in something like fifteen years. It’s not exactly believable. Then, as far as the utilization of the word “controversial” at the beginning of the video? What *exactly* is “controversial” about it? I should also add that anyone who needs to spell out the fact that their video is “controversial” probably isn’t being “controversial”.

One thing rappers continually forget as they age and suffer career setbacks is that they need to be themselves, whoever that is. I like the song enough, but it seems almost as though Common is trying too hard. It’s like I’m nodding my head and rolling my eyes at the same time.

The beat is banging, though.

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