Nobody's Smiling

Nobody's Smiling

by Common


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Nobody's Smiling

Common noted that this album's title references Eric B. & Rakim's "In the Ghetto" -- more specifically, the song's recurring sample from the duo's "I Ain't No Joke." More symbolic, if beneath the surface, is the use of Curtis Mayfield's grim and pointed "The Other Side of Town" on album opener "The Neighborhood." While Nobody's Smiling was inspired by the tragic condition of Common's hometown of Chicago, its incorporation of a relevant-as-ever song from 1970, recorded by a Chicagoan in Chicago, is an acknowledgment of how inner-city struggles are a constant, not a trend. The rapper/actor's geographic and economic distance can be cited as a reason to approach Nobody's Smiling with a cocked brow. Common, to the contrary, once again works closely with fellow Chicago native No I.D., and he also makes room for a clutch of local artists -- including Dreezy, Lil Herb, and Malik Yusef -- who are also shown throughout the booklet, along with other Chicago figures, cast in the same slight light as him. Likewise, through character sketches and an otherwise grounded perspective, Common places himself on their level instead of acting as a sage. Fervent throughout, Common deals out some of his hardest and heaviest rhymes. No I.D. strengthens his partner's work with rigid, reverb-heavy productions -- from the mechanical pings of "Speak My Piece" to the juddering drums and probing keyboards within the title track -- without approaching the harshness of the Yeezus tracks to which he contributed. On "Kingdom," something like a weathered "Jesus Walks," the rapper and the producer are at their most moving, with the protagonist attending a funeral and plotting revenge, unable to connect with the concept of faith: "My whole life I had to worry about eatin'/I ain't have time to think about what I believe in." Common places the most directly biographical track, "Rewind That," at the end of the album's standard edition. The second half, where he traces his friendship with J Dilla, involves some brilliant storytelling, and perhaps the only moments during the album's sessions when Common cracked a smile while recording. It's a touching finish to the rapper's best album since Be.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/22/2014
Label: Def Jam
UPC: 0602537909438
catalogNumber: 002116502
Rank: 131739

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Common   Primary Artist
Eleanor Hampton   Background Vocals,Vocal Ad-Libs
James Poyser   Keyboards
Kevin Randolph   Keyboards
Derrick Hodge   Bass
Terrence Marshall   Background Vocals
Vernard Burton   Background Vocals
Kingdom Voices   Background Vocals
Steve Wyreman   Guitar
Carya Holmes   Background Vocals
Dion Wilson   Keyboards
Meagan McNeal   Background Vocals
Tanesha Jefferson   Background Vocals
Sandra Dillard   Background Vocals
Andrea Moore-Daly   Background Vocals
Alfred Golden   Background Vocals
Brandi Brumfield   Background Vocals
Marcus Morton   Background Vocals
Miriam Noelle   Background Vocals
Robert Clark Betty   Vocals

Technical Credits

Curtis Mayfield   Composer
Oliver Scott   Composer
Andy Armer   Composer
Percy Bady   Producer,Direction
Sean "Puffy" Combs   Composer
James Poyser   Composer,Producer
Ernest Wilson   Composer
Craig Bauer   Vocal Engineer
Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie   Composer
Jim Caruana   Engineer
Common   Executive Producer
Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence   Composer
Christopher Wallace   Composer
Chris Atlas   Marketing
Randy Alpert   Composer
Lonnie Lynn   Composer
James Fauntleroy   Composer
Tai Linzie   Artwork,Photo Production
Gregg Rominiecki   Engineer
Ron Wilson   Composer
Alex Haldi   Art Direction
Steve Wyreman   Composer
Kristen Yiengst   Artwork,Photo Production
Bobby Campbell   Vocal Engineer
Jaha Johnson   Management
Mike Chavez   Executive Producer
Francois Mobasser   Legal Counsel
Vince Staples   Composer
Sean Anderson   Composer
Leon Marcus Michels   Composer
No Id   Producer,Executive Producer
Alexander Izquierdo   Composer
Sean Fenton   Composer
Paul Lane   Package Production
Michael Law Thomas   Engineer
Maximilian Jaeger   Vocal Engineer
Jhené Chilombo   Composer
Kirby Dockery   Composer
Ernest Fowler   Composer
Snoh Nowrozi   Composer
Seandrea Sledge   Composer
Josh Story   Engineer
Tricia Sterling   Marketing Coordinator
Herbert Wright   Composer

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