It’s practically impossible to think of a rapper more respected by both critics and his peers than Common, but despite the universal appreciation already guaranteed the Chicagan’s (Chicagian? Chigagunian?) tenth (!) album doesn’t see him resting on his lawrels. The title is almost a satirical take on what you’re likely to expect from Common’s ultra-serious brand of hip-hop- you won’t be finding your party bangers about sweat dripping from your balls here- but it seems to be presented with lack of irony. But of course why would anyone be smiling?? Any naive ideas about the election of an African American president (‘And to think, me and the president we from the same place’) making life for a black person in America any easier have been disproved time and time again, and the situation in Ferguson this year shows that relations between races are far from 21st century ideals. ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ manages to never quite collapse under the weight of its own self-importance, although the songs themselves aren’t quite as marvelous as Common’s best, it’s still an uncompromisingly brilliant effort.