Common - Black America Again

"I TOOK MY HUSTLE AND MADE IT A WEAPON," spits Common on Rain, reflecting on a career that’s transported him from Chicago’s slums to Hollywood’s red carpets. Common’s made missteps en route – 2002’s prog rock/neo-soul fusion Electric Circus was a spectacular fail – but regained his muse on 2014’s taut state-of-Chicago address Nobody’s Smiling. Pyramids’ borrowing of Chuck D’s mantra “I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddlin’” is emblematic of his still-abrasive mood, whether dissecting the prison system’s failures on A Bigger Picture Called Free or unleashing his most heartfelt rallying cry on the thrilling Robert Glasper-produced, Stevie Wonder-starring title track. The ’70s soul-powered The Day Women Took Over is another high. Only caveat: the languid jazzy filler.