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Album review: Common's 'Universal Mind Control'


Common_240 The once-underground hip-hop artist Common painted himself into a corner a while ago as a chin-stroking hippie who can still hang with the harder types. It might've gotten Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. a few Hollywood jobs, but it didn't help diversify his image -- and image counts for a lot in Common's business.

In his eighth album, "Universal Mind Control," Common tries to break away, taking on a harder, naughtier persona and dipping his typically dusty grooves in executive producer Pharrell's cold chemical wash. For part of the album, the techno gambit blows fresh air into Common's paisley pondering. The title track is a banger with ice-floe-thick beats. His Kanye West-assisted "Punch Drunk Love" is bedroom bravado set to defrost. His collaboration with Cee-Lo, "Make My Day," is bouncy sun-glinted retro-soul that should've served as a model for the whole album.

But too much of "Universal Mind Control" falls conceptually flat. "Sex 4 Sugar" hints at Barry White, but it stalls out with Common's unclever seduction rhymes. Wasted opportunities abound, including an inconsequential final track with Tricky's muse-chanteuse, Martina Topley-Bird.

Common gained currency, but too much is squandered.

-- Margaret Wappler

"Universal Mind Control"
(G.O.O.D. Music / Geffen Records)
Two and a half stars

Comments () | Archives (2)

i definetely think common's move to pharrell and bringing out that lighter side to him is good,i think this is no longer time to put on that hardcore or underground image and forget what other people are doing, that will kill you,you have to stay rooted but not too much.otherwise who's going to buy your music.

people want to relax their minds and take it easy,it's all about time and space,people are no longer that afro centric but still want to chill and live life.

i think "Universal Mind Control" is a good buy.

good one!

that is truth simple and plain. Common is very different to all the other rappers who just brag non stop, you can really feel peace and bliss through his music. his album is a great buy and ill give it 9.5/10


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