Common - Universal Mind Control

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Common provided uncharacteristically banal performances over bland production. Perhaps it was telling when he began talking about his next project before UMC even hit shelves - because after you hear it, you'll probably move on to the next thing as well.

The emcee formerly known as Common Sense [click to read] has always made his own lane; rarely, if ever has he followed others' examples as a blueprint for how his music should be made. So it should come as no surprise that after two Kanye West-helmed albums Be and Finding Forever, Com has once again swerved into left field to try something new.

Setting the party-music theme for the album is the title track. It doesn't take a Zune commercial to tell that "Universal Mind Control" is heavily influenced by Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock." It is, however, surprising that Com is outshined by The Neptunes' [click to read] production on this song. It isn't that he doesn't rhyme capably over it, but rather that Common doesn't really add much in his performance, electing to use a predictable flow and song structure. Still, it entertains. The quirkiness continues on "Punch Drunk Love" with Kanye West, as Common and Mr. West talk sex like only they can.

"Make My Day" is the first of several simply ordinary tracks on UMC. Whether it's Cee-Lo's [click to read]chorus or the production, this feels like a Gnarls Barkley track that didn't make the cut, and Common does nothing to improve it. Still, it's nothing compared to the horrendous "Sex 4 Suga," which finds the "6th Sense" and "Resurrection" emcee coming downright clumsy: "Sugar good lord, you've been blessed/If this is a sin, I must confess/The way you dress is like burlesque/I guess you don't mind being undressed/I like the way-it's-go-ing-down/Hips are moving all-a-round/Round and round, upside down/I once was lost but now I'm found!" He mercifully follows this atrocity with "Announcement," which is far and away UMC's best track.

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