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Common - Universal Mind Control (Cover Artwork)

Common

Common: Universal Mind ControlUniversal Mind Control (2008)
Geffen

Reviewer Rating: 3


Contributed by: fallingupwards84fallingupwards84
(others by this writer | submit your own)

This review written in early 2009. Pretend to have that perspective. Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., known in the hip-hop world as Common, has always been a restless artist. After releasing Like Water for Chocolate to rave reviews in 2000, Common unleashed the highly-experimental and rock-tinged Electri.
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This review written in early 2009. Pretend to have that perspective.

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., known in the hip-hop world as Common, has always been a restless artist. After releasing Like Water for Chocolate to rave reviews in 2000, Common unleashed the highly-experimental and rock-tinged Electric Circus to mixed reviews in 2002, losing part of his fanbase in the process.

That's when Common discovered an up-and-coming producer named Kanye West. "My daughter found Nemo / I found the new Premo" he writes on 2007's Finding Forever, comparing Mr. West to the legendary producer DJ Premier. Thanks in part to phenomenal production and beats that provided a backdrop to his socially conscious lyrics, Common released two critically successful hip-hop albums--Be and Finding Forever--back-to-back, raising the artist to stardom.

But Common is getting bored, much like he did in 2002. Kanye may be a great producer, but he has a distinct, recognizable sound, and in order to avoid monotony, Common has completely changed the sound. After a decade and a half of writing "conscious" style records, and despite the critical and popular success of the last two albums, Common expressed a desire to release a fun dance record that would more likely be heard at the club or party than a war protest. So Common called up Pharrell and enlisted Neptunes production, while veering off the road and writing songs about girls, girls, dancing and girls. Oh, and an out-of-place song about Obama that would fit better on Be than Universal Mind Control.

Common is at his best with the song "Gladiator," which brilliantly switches beats throughout the song with a catchy sample in the chorus and horns in the verse. "They say he's a radical / he don't fit the game / a heart full of glory and a fist full of pain," Common raps as he challenges others to beat him in the rap game. Fans of Barack Obama will enjoy the song "Changes" as Common expresses the hope--albeit unrealistically and tinged with cheesiness--that serious change will come. "Trees is blowin, we see change in the wind / it's a new day and I've got to take it in / See a black man run, we need him to win."

It's a valiant effort and Common deserves credit for doing something new and not falling into the trap of releasing the same record again and again. But the music and especially the lyrics are simply not up to par. The Neptunes beats are good, with a few gems here and there, but Common's lyrics are cringeworthy at points. Take the song "Sex 4 Suga," where Common repeats "Sex for sugar, sugar for sex" over and over during the chorus to a pulsating dance beat. "Oooo you're making my nature rise / we can do more than fantasize / let's do the do, me and you / we can whoa-whoa and whoop-dee-woo." Not exactly Common's brightest lyrics, to say the least.

But in Common's defense, that is not what he is aiming for on this record. He came out and stated very frankly that this is a dance record without political or "conscious" lyrics, just something you can have fun to. And Common accomplishes that goal. Clocking in at a mere 38 minutes with only 10 tracks, it's a tight album and if you are at all into dance music, you will probably dig this.

Note to Common: Now that you've got your Electric Circus Pt. 2 out of your system (and I totally understand why you wanted to make something different), go ahead and call up Kanye and release your proper followup to Finding Forever.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
dlangl4 (August 23, 2010)

Did he die or something

facetofacereunion08 (August 23, 2010)

Falling Upwards ( - November 19, 2009), may he RIP

johngentile (August 23, 2010)

Hey DrGunn,

These are my picks:

Boogie Down Productions- Edutainment (mindblowingly awesome)
Public Enemy- It takes a nation of millions/ fear of a black planet
Son of Beserk- anything
Scarface- Mr. Scarface is back!
Ice T- Original Gangsta

Cos (August 23, 2010)

I never knew reviews could sit around for this long. Is this an attempt to lure fallingupwards back from his tea party?

danperrone (August 22, 2010)

common is for chicks

DrGunn (August 22, 2010)

i got the big L and dr dre ones, and the geto boys are on the list (thought i'm getting varying advice over whether i should start with grip it... or we can't be stopped).

mikexdude (August 22, 2010)

If you don't like that a record has a review on here, you should protest by writing and submitting a review of another record that you think deserves a review.

You're drunk.

ZachLeg (August 21, 2010)

hey yo Dr Gun

check out

Big L - Life Stylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous
The Chronic (obviously)
The Geto Boys - We Can't Be Stopped
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KutXyPEEbQs

DrGunn (August 21, 2010)

i've been on a classic hip-hop kick lately. recommendations welcome (80s and early 90s).

overdefined (August 21, 2010)

If you don't like that a record has a review on here, you should protest by writing and submitting a review of another record that you think deserves a review.

MN_DrNick (August 21, 2010)

Why the fuck does this atrocious piece of shit album have a review on this site?!

Don't get me wrong, I'm into rap but this album was utter shit.

d_boons_ghost (August 21, 2010)

Haha, I forgot all about this one. Boy, did this album SUCK.

whatchokesbegin (August 20, 2010)

I see we've once again run out of albums to review.

maverick (August 20, 2010)

This record is godawful. Go check out "Like Water For Chocolate" and/or "Finding Forever" instead.

-Scott

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