Common Previews “Universal Mind Control” for DJBooth.net
To control the minds of your listeners, you need not only superb lyrical abilities, but a musical backdrop that can take the listeners to a realm of symphonic bliss. Common is back with his 8th studio recording, entitled Universal Mind Control, a relatively short but adventurous and nostalgic journey through the many metamorphoses that brought hip hop from its origins to what it is today.
DJBooth was invited to preview the 10-track recording, and the experience was nothing short of a trip to a hip-hop version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Over production by the Neptunes, with three tracks coming from Mr. DJ of Dungeon Ratz Productions, Common channels flows reminiscent of Afrika Bambaataa, but goes a bit light on his usual socially-conscious subject matter.
Universal Mind Control’s eponymous first single finds Common playing with flows and venturing from his time-tested rhyme style. The album diverges considerably from his last two studio efforts, the Kanye-produced Be, and most recently Finding Forever. Radio-friendliness may have not been the intention for this album, but the up-tempo synths and thumping bass tracks may make it Common’s highest-charting release to date.
Fans of Common’s Resurrection days shouldn’t be completely disappointed though; Common still has the skills to silence the skeptics, and he proves it on tracks like “The Announcement”, “Gladiator”, and “Inhale.” There is a lot of rock influence on this disc, and tracks like “What a World” and “Everywhere” have a Gnarls Barkley-esque feel. Lonnie Lynn, however, is no biter; by pulling together a beautiful collage of hip hop that pays homage to the genre's origins, Common shows his ability to create truly universal music.