When Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. isn’t starring in a major motion picture, penning a bestselling book, or dropping gems at the White House while driving Fox News pundits into fits of rage, he’s actually a pretty good rapper. Although he’s become famous for all sorts of things, Common remains one of the best pure emcees in hip-hop, still spitting that raw after two decades in the game.

With his new album, The Dreamer, The Believer,, the Chicago-getter is back to doing what he does best: flowing over rugged breakbeats. The entire 10-track album—plus a few bonus cuts—was produced by No I.D., the man responsible for the bulk of 1992’s Can I Borrow A Dollar? and 1994’s Resurrection, which was released exactly 17 years ago this week.

Common’s ninth studio album isn’t scheduled to drop some time in December, but he held a private listening session last Thursday at New York’s Roc The Mic studios. While his lovely assistant poured libations of red and rose, Common treated Complex to a sneak preview of most of the tracks from his Warner Music debut, rapping along with so much energy and passion that it was obvious how much he loves the new project.

“This album is some of the best music I’ve been a part of in my life,” he said. “We’ve got something that we believe is real special.” But will he make a believer out of you? Keep clicking through to hear Complex’s first impressions...

Written by Rob Kenner (@boomshots)