Nobody's Smiling Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 34 Ratings

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  • Summary: The 10th full-length studio release for the Chicago rapper was produced by No I.D. and features guest appearances Jhené Aiko, Snoh Aalegra, Big Sean, Elijah Blake, Cocaine 80's, Dreezy, Lil Herb, and Malik Yusef.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Jul 22, 2014
    Nobody’s Smiling is defiant, as full of commanding musicality as it is of Common’s own provocation.
  2. Jul 31, 2014
    His latest--entirely produced by long-time collaborator No I.D.--reveals an enlivened emcee, the same forceful voice who gave us classic albums such as Be and Like Water For Chocolate.
  3. Jul 21, 2014
    Common has crafted one of the best hip-hop albums of the year so far.
  4. Aug 20, 2014
    In all, a deep treat almost on a par with Common's mid-'90s prime. [Sep 2014, p.88]
  5. Jul 25, 2014
    The album's most convincing when tackling the push-and-pull conflict between the individual and his hometown, as Common's good intentions are buoyed by memory, generosity, and attentiveness to his craft.
  6. Sep 5, 2014
    Edgy songs whose No I.D.-driven production fits adeptly in conversation with the beats dominating contemporary hip-hop. [Sep/Oct 2014, p.100]
  7. Jul 29, 2014
    He set out to depict the pains of contemporary Chicago, but he ended up just making another Common album.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Jul 23, 2014
    This is vintage Common, so aggressive and lyrically sound. No ID was superb on the boards and even with the deluxe tracks the album clocks in under an hour, perfect length. Chicago can stand up and be proud! Expand
  2. Jul 22, 2014
    Definitely the best rap album of the year so far. It's a good album overall with a good amount of Lyricism from Common and some great feature verses. The production for some songs sound a little too abstract for Common, but overall had some really good production. Common does a very good job of sticking with the theme of the album and illustrating what it means to be from Chicago. The features from Lil Herb and Vince Staples really adds to the theme too. Definitely a great album compared to the rap albums that have come out this year so far. Expand
  3. Jul 23, 2014
    So far ..... this is one of the best Hip-Hop albums of the year, along with "Piñata" by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. This album contains Interesting, but overall great production. This is a concept album about Common's hometown Chicago, which contains lyrics and themes about violence, crime rates, and the economy of Chicago. The last track in the standard edition of this album contains an impressive tribute to the legendary deceased Hip-Hop producer J Dilla. Overall, Common hasn't been this impressive since "Be" and "Like Water for Chocolate". Expand
  4. Aug 14, 2014
    dark beats, some questionable guest appearances though. stand out tracks include 'blak majik' and the lead single 'kingdom.' at 10 tracks it is short and sweet. Expand
  5. Aug 24, 2014
    Overall, Nobody's Smiling is a solid album. It has some definite lows in the middle with tracks such as "Blak Majik", "Speak My Piece", and "Hustle Harder", but those are sandwiched by good ones such as "Diamonds", "Kingdom", and "Rewind That". It is easy to become disillusioned by those middle tracks, but the inclusion of great tracks at the end brings you back into thinking this is a good album. As a whole, Common has released better ones, but Nobody's Smiling is a solid entry into his discography that gets the job done. Expand
  6. Aug 5, 2014
    I am infinitely confused why this album is getting such high reviews. Half of the standard edition is composed of mediocre, sell-out tracks with very little of the lyrical depth Common has become known for. Songs such as "Blak Majik" and "Speak My Piece" were entirely centered around repeating samples/phrases. And let's ignore the fact Jhené Aiko performed far better on "Blak Majik" than Common did. He definitely should've traded out three of the standard edition tracks for the three deluxe edition tracks. "Hustle Harder", despite a fast and infectious flow, is a conceptual nightmare featuring little lyrical effort. Finally, "Diamonds" is an atrocious car crash of a song with semi-decent Common verses accentuated by a garbage Big Sean hook, all topped off with an awkward, choppy Sean verse at the end.
    Despite all of these glaring weak spots, "The Neighborhood" and "Nobody's Smiling" were solid tracks on the standard edition, as were "Out On Bond" and "Young Hearts Run Free" on the deluxe edition.
    "Kingdom", "Rewind That" & "7 Deadly Sins" were all masterpieces and manage to make this album a good listen in a weak year for rap. ~ 6.4/10 ~ including deluxe tracks: 6.9/10
  7. Jul 23, 2014
    From stardom rises on "Be" to weaker shines on "Universal Mind Control", the Chicago state of mind themes falls in-between sonically, but lyrically Common's 10th full length is one of Hip Hop's better to be released this year!

    The album opens up with features from Cocaine 80s, a James Fauntleroy whom beautifully goes toe-to-toe with a smokey sample of Curtis Mayfield. Common start things off, delivering top-notch verses about his hometown, Chicago, and it's gang life and morality, and the rapper Lil Herb who did not witness to see Common's first releases spits straightforward fire, quotables and being current with the raps of Herb's tough and hard street-life "I’ve been out there three days and I got shot at three times / Felt like every bullet hit me when they flew out each nine".
    The Jhené Aiko-assisted "Black Majik" tosses on mythical ideas, religiously and fantasized imageries over a creative and fresh No I.D. produced cut. Common does well, but Jhené Aiko with features-after-features keeps impressing and stealing the shows. While on that note, with Aiko the long TDE affiliated artist, it got me scratching my head asking "Where the hell did the absolutely fantastic Ab-Soul record go?" a track ("Made in Black America") who thus far was one the best tracks of the year with stunning verses from both MCs and one of No I.D.s better produced cuts in a while.

    Then there is, the Kanye West inspired "Diamonds" which sonically is solid. A muddy rage fest triumph, it is quite catchy and has one interesting bump to it's drums and instrumentals. But, only five seconds in who's hook rhymes "Campaign poppin" with "Champagne poppin’" and with it's elementary ad-libs "Aye, aye, aye, aye.." all over, the feature Big Sean managed making Common's at least listenable verses made into a song that is instead a un-listenable " 'G.O.O.D. Music' " song that should not seen a date. And to case worse, the awkwardly transition to Big Sean's terrible verse do not make it any better so to say. The track would work for Big Sean I guess, but for a wordsmith like Common we expect better from an album circled around Chi.

    And that's that, when Common is caught slipping away from the topic of Chicago is when it becomes uninteresting, as in "Speak My Piece" which is smooth with it's late 80's, mid 90's boom-bap feel with the Biggie-sample but at the end of the day, it's just lazily put-together with production, beat being too repetitive and un-original to be making any cut into an album. More than anything a mixtape track or a radio freestyle then, at it's finest. The "Yeezus" pre-board production on "Hustle Harder" is not much better either, and if not for the good verses by Common and Dreezy it would not had it's listens.

    Despite the weak moments on here, Common's "Nobody Smiling's" is not bad, it serves as an enjoyable ode and one emotional ride for a better future to his hometown Chicago. While the titel track, again has flaws on the production it at least is interesting, and tracks like the fantastic salvation of "Kingdom" and the lovely storytelling tribute to No I.D. and the late-J Dilla on "Rewind That" does enough for it to not fall flat as with the other highlights of Common's newest LP.
    If earlier released songs as the grimey and raw "Made In Black America" and the bonus on the deluxe album "7 Deadly Sins" traded places with the mediocrity of some tracks on this short 10 piece record, we would certainly come across a better packed album, a damn great one.

See all 10 User Reviews