After about two listens, I can say that I like the new Common album, The Dreamer, The Believer. It's definitely an improvement over the last two he put out. I wouldn't say he's going back to his roots or anything like that. The Common of old seems to be gone. Well, maybe just with the overall sound, not so much the lyrical content or approach.
That's okay with me though. He had classics, sure. But, if I want that I can listen to those albums. There's no need to repeat it. I like when artists grow and try new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But, the risk is worth it. The risk is what can end producing something new that works.
I finally watched this past week's episode of Hell on Wheels on AMC, which Common has a major role in. I like the show. Though I thought it was a big mistake for Common to premier (a sneak peak of) his new music video for "Celebrate" right after it ended. To me, it kind of hurt the integrity of the show, and of Common as an actor.
Hell on Wheels after all is not The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (remember when they premiered the video for "Summertime" after that show?). It is a period piece taking place in the mid 19th Century just after the Civil War. The audience spends an hour sinking into that reality only to be jolted out of it, out of the realness of the characters, when Common presents himself in a tuxedo at a present day party scene.
If he wants to be taken seriously as an actor, on AMC, he should just act. There's no need to push the music on people. I think his people probably thought it would be good for him to reach out to the audience of the show who may not know his music. But, this is forced. Just branching out with the acting gets Common's name and image out to these new audiences. After putting himself out there though, it would have been wiser to sit back and let the audience come to him.
All that said, "Celebrate" is a nice song and video, and a good choice for a single. Drop me a line here or on Twitter and let me know what you think.