Black America Again

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Black America Again
Black America Again.png
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 4, 2016 (2016-11-04)
GenreHip hop
Length56:43
Label
Producer
Common chronology
Nobody's Smiling
(2014)
Black America Again
(2016)
Singles from Black America Again
  1. "Love Star"
    Released: September 2, 2016
  2. "Black America Again"
    Released: September 23, 2016

Black America Again is the eleventh studio album by American rapper Common. It was released on November 4, 2016, by ARTium Recordings and Def Jam Recordings.[1][2]

Black America Again was supported by two singles: "Love Star" and "Black America Again". The album received widespread acclaim from critics, debuting at number 25 on the US Billboard 200.

Background[edit]

Common felt the need to release the album due to the American election year.[3]

Singles[edit]

The album's first single, "Love Star", was released on September 2, 2016.[4] The song features guest appearances from musicians Marsha Ambrosius and PJ, while the production was handled by Karriem Riggins.

The album's second single, "Black America Again", was released on September 23, 2016.[5] The song features guest appearances from American R&B singer Stevie Wonder, with Karriem Riggins, who also produced the track as well, alongside Robert Glasper. On November 14, 2016, Common released the remix to "Black America Again", which features guest appearances from American rappers Gucci Mane and Pusha T, alongside the additional guest vocals from American recording artist BJ the Chicago Kid.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.9/10[7]
Metacritic88/100[8]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[9]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[10]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[11]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[12]
Mojo4/5 stars[13]
The Observer4/5 stars[14]
Pitchfork7.9/10[15]
Q4/5 stars[16]
USA Today3.5/4 stars[17]
XXL4/5[18]

Black America Again received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 88, based on 13 reviews.[8] Andy Kellman of AllMusic said, "All that's here, dark or bright, is vital."[9] Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune said, "One of the year's most potent protest albums. ... The album sags midway through with a handful of lightweight love songs, but finishes with some of its most emotionally resounding tracks: the "Glory"-like plea for redemption "Rain" with Legend, the celebration of family that is "Little Chicago Boy", and the staggering "Letter to the Free"."[10] Eric Renner Brown of Entertainment Weekly said, "It's the MC's empathetic and clear-eyed rhymes that truly make this a vital contribution to the national conversation."[11] Erin Lowers of Exclaim! said, "Black America Again isn't an album meant for casual listening, but rather a socio-politically charged album meant to be absorbed so that everyone can truly recognize the "Bigger Picture Called Freedom"."[19] Andy Cowan of Mojo magazine stated, ""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."[13]

Damien Morris of The Observer said, "Although there's no hit to rival the Selma soundtrack epic, "Glory", and a reunion with its vocalist John Legend is the worst of furrowed-brow, gluten-free beat poetry, this is intelligent, impressive work."[14] Edwin "STATS" Houghton of Pitchfork said, "Time and again he suggests that freedom itself is an act of improvisation, of imagination, that begins now: "We write our own story." It's in the context of these bigger ideas that Com lands some of his biggest gut-punches of all time, while rapping in his simpler, prize fighter mode."[15] Steve Yates of Q magazine stated, "Uneven as it may be, Black America Again is a stirring reminder of the Chicago MC's relevance."[16] Scott Glaysher of XXL said, "At the end of the day, Common creates a great album with such a pertinent and topical purpose. If nothing else, it's a strong snapshot of the happenings in America right now and the promise of what the country could become."[18] William Sutton of PopMatters said, "Whilst certainly not flawless, Black America Again sees Common deliver some of his most vital work and reaffirms his place in the discussion of greatest conscious rappers of all time."[20]

The Independent placed Black America Again at number 19 on their "Best Albums of 2016" year-end list.[21]

Commercial performance[edit]

Black America Again debuted at number 25 on the US Billboard 200, selling 15,000 copies in the United States.[22]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Joy and Peace" (featuring Bilal)Karriem Riggins2:40
2."Home" (featuring Bilal)Riggins3:31
3."Word from Moe Luv Interlude"Robert GlasperGlasper0:40
4."Black America Again" (featuring Stevie Wonder)
  • Riggins
  • Glasper
6:09
5."Love Star" (featuring Marsha Ambrosius and PJ)Riggins5:09
6."On a Whim Interlude"E. RigginsRiggins0:41
7."Red Wine" (featuring Syd and Elena)
Riggins4:35
8."Pyramids"
  • Riggins
  • Glasper
3:30
9."A Moment in the Sun Interlude"GlasperGlasper0:51
10."Unfamiliar" (featuring PJ)Riggins3:58
11."A Bigger Picture Called Free" (featuring Syd and Bilal)
Riggins4:38
12."The Day Women Took Over" (featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)
Riggins5:16
13."Rain" (featuring John Legend)
  • Lynn
  • E. Riggins
  • Tanisha Riggins
Riggins4:08
14."Little Chicago Boy" (featuring Tasha Cobbs)
Riggins6:37
15."Letter to the Free" (featuring Bilal)
  • Lynn
  • E. Riggins
  • Glasper
  • Riggins
  • Glasper
4:24
Total length:56:43

Notes

  • "Joy and Peace" features background vocals by Syd, Tasha Cobbs, Marsha Ambrosius, PJ and BJ the Chicago Kid
  • "Word From Moe Luv Interlude" features vocals by David Grants
  • ”Black America Again" features background vocals by Chuck D and MC Lyte
  • "Pyramids" features vocals by Bilal
  • "A Moment in the Sun Interlude" features vocals by Lynetria Johnson and Elena
  • "Little Chicago Boy" features background vocals by Marsha Ambrosius

Sample credits

  • "Joy and Peace" contains elements from "Empty City", performed by Gentle Giant.
  • "Home" contains elements from "I'm Going Home (To Live With God)", performed by O. V. Wright; it also contains elements from the album Our Time Has Come by Louis Farrakhan.
  • "Black America Again" contains elements from "Catch a Groove", performed by Juice.
  • "Love Star" contains elements from "You, Me, and He", performed by Mtume; It also contains a sample of "Sexy Mama", performed by The Moments.
  • "Red Wine" contains elements from "Cormoran Bléssé", performed by Edgar Vercy.
  • "Pyramids" contains elements from "Brooklyn Zoo", performed by Ol' Dirty Bastard.
  • "Unfamiliar" contains elements from "Half Forgotten Daydreams", performed by John Cameron, licensed courtesy of KPM Music.
  • "The Day Women Took Over" contains elements from "Quiet Run", performed by Mark Blumberg, courtesy of Mark Blumberg and published by TM Century Inc.
  • "Little Chicago Boy" contains elements from "Stoner's Creek", performed by Frank Dukes.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
New Zealand Heatseekers Albums (RMNZ)[23] 9
US Billboard 200[24] 25
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[25] 3

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Black America Again by Common on Apple Music". iTunes. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Reed, Ryan (October 17, 2016). "Common Plots Politically Charged 'Black America Again' LP". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  3. ^ Smith, Trevor (November 6, 2016). "Common explains why he released Black America again close to election". HotNewHipHop. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "Love Star (feat. Marsha Ambrosius & PJ) – Single by Common on Apple Music". iTunes. September 2, 2016. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ April Clare Welsh (September 23, 2016). "Common teams with Stevie Wonder on 'Black America Again' single". Fact. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  6. ^ "Listen to Common's 'Black America Again' Remix Feat. Gucci Mane & Pusha T". Billboard. November 14, 2016. Archived from the original on November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "Black America Again by Common reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Archived from the original on January 8, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Reviews for Black America Again by Common". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Black America Again – Common". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Kot, Greg (November 4, 2016). "Common regains his hip-hop mojo on 'Black America Again'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Brown, Eric Renner (November 3, 2016). "Common's Black America Again: EW Review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  12. ^ Carroll, Jim (November 3, 2016). "Common – Black America Again: a furious, righteous, powerful return to form". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Cowan, Andy (November 7, 2016). "Common: Black America Again". Mojo. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Morris, Damien (November 6, 2016). "Common: Black America Again review – a call to arms for election month". The Observer. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Houghton, Edwin "STATS" (November 4, 2016). "Common: Black America Again". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Yates, Steve (February 2017). "State of the Nation". Q (368): 113.
  17. ^ Ryan, Patrick (November 3, 2016). "Review: Common's vital 'Black America Again' resonates in Trump era". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  18. ^ a b Glaysher, Scott (November 14, 2016). "Common Aims to Inspire on 'Black America Again'". XXL. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Lowers, Erin (November 9, 2016). "Common Black America Again". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on November 22, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  20. ^ Sutton, William (November 7, 2016). "Common: Black America Again". PopMatters. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  21. ^ "Best Albums of 2016". The Independent. November 30, 2016. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  22. ^ Hernandez, Victoria (November 14, 2016). "Hip Hop Album Sales: Rae Sremmurd, Alicia Keys & Common". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  23. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. November 14, 2016. Archived from the original on November 11, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  24. ^ "Common Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "Common Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2016.