If you hated Common's last album, Universal Mind Control, you'll be happy to hear that he's ditched that failed attempt at modernity and returns to his 90s backpacker roots in The Dreamer/The Believer. This of course means loops cribbed from old soul tunes, dusty boom-bap beats, cameos by Maya Angelou and Nas and lyrics full of vague notions of positivity.
He's back to working within his comfort zone, which makes for a more consistent album, but in the year 2011 it's hard to get excited about a retread of the 90s. Common can still craft some clever verses, but all that time he took off to focus on his acting career seems to have taken a toll. For every great line, there's a clunker of a bad pun around the corner. If hip-hop in the new millennium leaves you cold, you'll love this slab of retro nostalgia. But compared to his earlier work, it's just decent.
Top track: Celebrate