Common is one of the most respected and well known rappers in all of hip hop. Besides his success in music, he has also been featured in numerous films including American Gangster, Wanted and the upcoming Terminator Salvation. His conscious rhyme style has delivered him vast success amongst the backpack rap community. Now Common is trying for mainstream success with his latest album Universal Mind Control. Can the elusive mainstream success occur for Common on his latest LP?
The first single off of Universal Mind Control is the title track Universal Mind Control (UMC) featuring and produced by Pharrell. The song is much more up-tempo than anything that you would expect from Common. The track samples the old Afrika Bambaataa track Planet Rock. The track is catchy and well done.
Common teams up again with Pharrell on Announcement. The song has a decidedly early 1990’s vibe to it. Common shows that he is still one of the best rappers in the game. The track is simple yet it works.
Punch Drunk Love (The Eye) features G.O.O.D. Music head Kanye West. The track sounds similar in vibe to what you would hear on 808s & Heartbreak. The track is interesting and well done.
Make My Day features Gnarls Barkley member and former Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo. The song is similar to what you expect from Gnarls Barkley. The song features strong production that is very unique and a strong chorus from Cee-Lo.
Gladiator once again teams Common with Pharrell. The song features two very different and opposing production elements that somehow work together in a harmonious existence. The chorus is completely different than the verses melodically or in tone.
What A World features StarTrak alternative group Chester French. The song is in a similar vein to The Neptunes recent work with longtime friend Kenna. The track is different than anything that you expect from Common.
Changes features Muhsinah Abdul-Karim. The song is vintage Common and what you expect from him as an artist. The song seems very poignant especially at this historical time.
Sex 4 Suga is just a bland sounding electro heavy track. The song just does not seem to work on any level whatsoever.
Inhale is one of the stronger tracks on the album. The production is very strong and helps to make the whole track work.
Break My Heart Live is a live version of Break My Heart which was featured on Common’s last album the critically acclaimed Finding Forever.
Overall Universal Mind Control is a definite departure from what you expect of Common as an artist. However, like Electric Circus, Universal Mind Control works to show the variety of skills that Common possesses. Overall Universal Mind Control gets 8 out of 10. If you are a fan of Common make sure you pick up Universal Mind Control when it is available in stores on December 9th.