Hidden behind a dark title and an even darker album cover are true gems from one of Chicago’s finest emcees. Common and No I.D. reunite for Nobody’s Smiling and deliver a one-two punch that may be second to none thus far into 2014.

The album pays homage to the “City of Wind” by capturing the essence of modern day Chicago like only Common can. Nobody’s Smiling is an unapologetic album exposing the windy city for its many apparent problems with violence, sex and drugs. On the track “No Fear”, Common cleverly uses his love of sports as a metaphor to tell the story of a hustler moving up the ranks in the streets. “No Fear” also showcases Common’s bashful side as he drops line after line of brilliance, “Come on dawg, you know my pedigree, Finding Forever, BE, the sun never set on me, many reign but the game never weather me. If I’m in the building then that mean I got equity…

On the track “No Fear”, Common cleverly uses his love of sports as a metaphor to tell the story of a hustler moving up the ranks in the streets. “No Fear” also showcases Common’s bashful side as he drops line after line of brilliance.

With a little help from artists like Big Sean on the single “Diamonds” and Jhene Aiko on “Blak Majik” Nobody’s Smiling has a dose of tracks that would appeal to the masses and not just the loyal Common fan. One of the standout songs on the album, “Real”, features the smooth and soulful voice of Elijah Blake. Common’s steady pace mixed with the vocals of Blake and the production of No I.D. make for the perfect blend, worthy of a couple pull-ups.

Throughout the album, Common paints the picture of what it’s like coming from Chicago like a fly on the wall just observing it all. His poetic style of rap paired with the production of No I.D. means this album will stay in heavy rotation.

On Repeat: “Real” ft. Elijah Blake, “Diamonds” ft. Big Sean // Production 4 // Lyrics 4 // Flow 5 // Creativity 4 // Overall 4

Words By. Patrick Dennis Jr.