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Album Review

Common, 'Universal Mind Control'

December 8, 2008
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Hip-Hop
COMMON UNIVERSAL MIND CONTROL
GEFFEN
ESSENTIAL "Punch Drunk Love"

Common, best known for his laid-back combination of contemporary deep thinking and inventiveness, has decided to hook up with the Neptunes for a short, propulsive club record. Judging from the title, it would seem that this major talent would check in about these unnerving times where nothing is private. Maybe he's too busy making movies. Instead we get Common spitting in short bursts about very little on songs like the title track, which is more about electronic beats than the MC's lines. And on the lame "Sex 4 Suga," he lazily rhymes "round" with "round" repeatedly. That's beneath him. Not many of the Neptunes' beats really challenge Common, and his rhymes seem uncharacteristically empty. The best tracks are the charmingly goofy come-on collaboration with Kanye West, "Punch Drunk Love," and the sweet, closing "Everywhere," which really is notable for the return of former Tricky chanteuse Martina Topley-Bird. There is a tribute to fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, "Changes," where Common looks at the promise in front of us. Common has every right to shake up his musical formula, but this just needed more focus from everyone involved. (Out tomorrow)

KEN CAPOBIANCO

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