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Universal Mind Control is commons 8th solo album incredible for any rapper still going. The album brings a new side of Common with productions from Kanye West and mainly The Neptunes it has a sort of electric synthesizer effect going on.
Track listing reviewed -
1. Universal Mind Control. The first single from the album and a powerful start featuring Pharrell with an elctro voice for the chorus, this shows signs of Commons change from his traditional hip-hop music.
2. Punch Drunk Love. Starts with Kanyes voice who features only in the chorus and lets Common do the rest, its hard to class this as hip-hop as you can hear more synthesizer and space hits like a futuristic cow bell!.
3. Make My Day. One of the more uptempo songs with a beat ive never heard before which works well, this shows signs of Commons originality and what we are used to hearing from him, with a feature from Cee-Lo on the chorus.
4. Sex 4 Suga. A very simple hip-hop electro beat not much going on in the way of background sounds, just a beat with a synthesizer loop that has a high pitch and low pitch adjustment.
5. Annoucement. The second single release and should of been left on the album in my opinion its a bit to slow to try and promote the album as there are far better tracks that can do this, it features Pharrell whos starting to have a deep anger voice like The Game.
6. Gladiator. The best on the album its brilliant, an intro start from Kanye that sounds like the song is already made up but suddenly kicks to Common with a completely different beat which he blows up on, truely amazing.
7. Changes. The more love style beat, slow with a deep bass while common raps about how hip-hop has changed and not to be afraid of what comes around. With features from Muhsinah & Omoye Assata Lynn on the chorus.
8. Inhale. By far the more original hip-hop beat with scratching and a solid bass, while Common raps about how his life has gone on.
9. What A World. Featuring Chester French its not one of my favourite but has a nice guitar loop to a simple beat with added bits here and there.
10. Everywhere. Definitely a club hip-hop song with a tempo like Bombs Over Baghdad by Outkast if anyone has heard that or about 230bpm with a feature from Martina Topley-Bird who sings on half the songs, but with the songs tempo speed it does make Common rap the fastest his has on the album.
11. Punch Drunk Love [Booty Shake Mix]. Better than the original probably not but a good mix never the less, a more slow and bouncy beat with more synthesizer kicking in, a nice extra track.
My overall review -
I did enjoy the album as i am a fan of Common but with this new area hes going into i would recommend he goes back to his old style like on his album Be another one with that style be amazing but if Common continues down this path he would soon be classed as a typical new skool hip-hop artist for producing electro club beats.
As for the tracks 11 wasnt enough and 1 of them was just a mix i would of liked 15-16.
"Universal Mind Control" is the eighth album from the Chicago MC, Common. It came out at the end of 2008, and had the artist completely change up his style by havng The Neptunes take over with the production, and make his album a Hip Hop one, based upon Electronica beats.
1. "Universal Mind Control" (feat. Pharrell)
When this, the lead single came out, everyone was excited, as you had Common collab with The Neptunes again, whihc he hadn't done in a few years. When this occurred, he tok it back to the ightires as they sampled "Planet Rock", and came up with a lively Hip Hop cut which was new few Comm', but worked. In knowledge of how the rest of the album went, I wish he never got excited about this style, as it seems that he worked off the hype that this one received, and based the res of the record around it.
2. "Punch Drunk Love"
This is the only other true great track on the album. It has him work with Kanye again (since "Be" had him pretty much all the way through), and has him use the 88s of his own 2008 album, to come up with bangin gproduction, which you can't help but enjoy as its hypnotic nature takes your body over as both Ye and Comm MC over the thing.
3. "Make My Day" (feat. Cee-Lo)
Ex-Gooide Mob member, and current Gnalres Barkley man, Cee-Lo jins Common for this doo-wop inspired cut, whihc has Mr. DJ make the beats, for Cee-Lo to sing on and Common to get busy with. It seemed to be a struggle from the rapper, as it was too fast for what he's used to, and henever seemed comfortable with it, and the quality of it reflected this
4. "Sex 4 Suga"
The Nepunes return for this one and come with the type of production whihc they offered for madonna, and this obviously isn'th the direction they should be giving to one of the best in the Hip Hop world, from this it seemed to just stay on the same level as Common rpas to a girl about how he wants to get with her. I liked a couple of big lines in this one, but aside from this, its all rather weak, and has little to offer you as the chorus is over-used and occupies the majority of the cut.
5. "Announcement" (feat. Pharrell)
This was one of the first to be heard off the album, and the leak cae out with a banger as The Netpunes returned to the type of sound whihc they were known for a decade earlier, when they first made it big when doing beats for N.O.R.E., Kelis and The Clipse. It is one of few good ones here, so saour the quality of this smooth one.
6. "Gladiator" (feat. Pharrell)
He tries something differnt on this one, and seems to go back to his usual style, but I felt as if it just wasnt working whilst sandwihced in between so many tracks which just don't fit in with the mood of it. You would have to take it as an individual track to really enjoy it, as its pretty much the only time when he shows off his great lyrical talent in the album, with tpoical references whilst describing a "Gladiator", and likening them to Kimbo Slice.
7. "Changes" (feat. Muhsinah and Omoye Assata Lynn)
Here you get Common taking on the mood of America at the time when this was recorded by referring to the election, which would have been a main subject matter when he recorded the album, and a Conscious MC such as himself couldn't miss out on an opportunity such as this. However it is a little late for it all, so the impact wasn't as great as what other artist had when they did similar things around the 4th of November. At the end of this one, you hear the voice of current president-elect, Barack Obama, summing up the the of the track.
It's difficult to point out specifics, however there's just something about the beat in this which exictes me and involves me into it. Common raps on how he must be slept-on to truely get, and this is one of few tracks on the album where this is still true of him as he shows off a sophisicated lyrical talent, which simply cannot be tested by any others.
9. "What A World" (feat. Chester French)
This is another one where The Neptunes go into the type of production whihc they gave Madonna for "Hard Candy". it is such clean Electronica, and I coulnd't stand it for this reason. However the way whihc Common rides it does make you want to get into it as he tells a story in a stop-and-go manner to match the way that the beat went.
10. "Everywhere" (feat. Martina Topley-Bird)
On this one, I coulnd't help but listen to it on another level, as the beats in it , whihc come from Mr. DJ had the potenital to be slightly atlered and transformed into a banger of a Drum & Bass cut. However it stayed a little too low in its tempo to achieve this. The hope kept me engaged, but aside from this, its rather poor.
Honestly, I can't believe that and American audience will get this allbum. I expect amny, espically the Hip Hop fans who casually follow him, will just shun this and call it "Techno" for all its Electronica, and at times this is correct, because it just doens't work for him underground sound. However he does get in a little of his more expected material ttoo. I liked it when he experimented with Rock styles more than this, as this one just didn't work, unless it was based around fundamental Hip Hop characteristics.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Universal Mind Control (UMC) - Common
2 Punch Drunk Love - Common, Kanye West
3 Make My Day - Common, Cee-Lo
4 Sex 4 Suga - Common
5 Announcement - Common, Pharrell
6 Gladiator - Common
7 Changes - Common, Muhsinah
8 Inhale - Common
9 What A World - Common
10 Everywhere - Common, Martina Topley Bird
11 Punch Drunk Love - Common, Kanye West