Common spotlights Chicago rappers on 'Nobody's Smiling' cover art

King Louie

The King Louie album cover for Common's "Nobody Smiling."

It’s one thing for a rapper to feature up-and-coming artists from their city on their songs. It’s another to put these artists on the cover of their album. That’s what Common did in the cover art for his upcoming album, “Nobody’s Smiling.”

Common is featured on the cover of the standard album with a black backdrop while fellow Chicago artists – including Dreezy, Lil Herb, King Louie and Lil Bibby -- appear with the same black backdrop on the deluxe album covers.

“The concept came from the staff at Def Jam who was like, ‘Man, we got this idea about having different people on your covers, different people from Chicago,” Common said in a promotional video posted online Wednesday. “Soon as I heard that, I was like I’m with it. ... It’s my time to do that. I have to do that.”

The album will have a Chicago-centric feel. The first single, “Kingdom,” address the violence in the city.

“When I was working on that song, I was reading these clips about the murders in Chicago,” Common said in a promotional video posted online Tuesday. “I was thinking this song got to be a tribute and an honor to those people and also a song that’s saying, ‘Man we gone change that.’ A song that motivates people to change that situation and improve the situation. That’s (how) ‘Kingdom’ came about.”

“Nobody’s Smiling” is scheduled to hit stores July 22.

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