During an interactive interview sponsored by Beats Music, Chicago rapper Common broke down each track on his upcoming album, Nobody’s Smiling. Joined by producer No I.D., who lends his talents on the production end of the album, Common first addressed the intro track for Nobody’s Smiling, which features appearances from Lil Herb and James Fauntleroy.
In regards to the addition of Windy City up-and-comer Lil Herb on the intro track, which is titled “The Neighborhood,” Common says the rapper was the “perfect emcee” for the record and added a unique perspective to the song.
“‘The Neighborhood’ is—When I say that word it just makes me think of where I live and where I come from,” he said in a video posted on XXLMag.com. “And where a person comes from. And this song was really about—This is where I come from. This is the way I was raised. This is a place I’ve come from. And then I always thought about when we made the music. When we made that song it was like man, I wanted to hear somebody else’s perspective. We knew that was gon’ be the intro to the album. ‘The Neighborhood’ was. I wanted to hear somebody else’s perspective on what the neighborhood was to them and where they come from. It happened to be Lil Herb point blank after No I.D. played me Lil Herb. I heard him and I kept listening to some of his other stuff. I was like ‘This dude is raw.’ And he was the perfect emcee, perfect artist to put on there. Cause he told his perspective in a cold way.”
Another artist who lends their talents on Common’s tenth studio album is Los Angeles songstress Jhene Aiko who appears on the Nobody Smiling record, “Blak Majik.”
“I wanted to work with Jhene cause man, I think she got something very special,” Common said. “It’s very rare that you find an artist that people invest their emotions and energy into. And I think what she does as an artist people like really care about her and follow her. They know she got something special. I like her originality. And definitely her voice. And I’m a sucker for good writing. And I love when people write from clever and honest places. And that’s what she does.”
In regards to the title track on Nobody’s Smiling, which Common revealed was the first song he wrote, the rapper says he pulled inspiration for the song from Rakim’s 1990 record, “The Ghetto.”
“This was the first song I wrote for the album though. ‘Nobody Smiling’ was…That came from that conversation we had,” he said while speaking to No I.D. “And I could remember going back home listening to Rakim, ‘The Ghetto.’ And thinking like ‘I gotta deliver something that’s gon’ be like—that’s gon’ be—no matter what city you in. I was thinking bout ‘If I’m in Chicago right now, how do I feel?’ And I wanted to just like you said, step in it in the shoes of somebody that’s in that place and still give a perspective that may be different than just—than you may hear from another artist.”
Nobody’s Smiling, which will serve as Common’s first album as an artist signed to Def Jam, will be released tomorrow (July 22).