Common
Universal Mind Control


1.5
very poor

Review

by Tyler EMERITUS
December 12th, 2008 | 90 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Common should permanently stick to acting.

Let's take a moment to shed a tear for the fall of Chicago hip-hop. Kanye West may have just released his strongest album in years, but calling it hip-hop is a stretch. Lupe Fiasco has consistently failed to deliver on the hype and now Common has put out an album so bad that I'm actually almost at a loss for words. Universal Mind Control is in a close race for worst of the year, but it's a fitting follow-up to the disappointing Finding Forever.

Common said there was one thing missing from his resume: the club sound. Here's the problem: Common is not a club artist. So it's easy to imagine why Universal Mind Control disappoints. What's hard to imagine is just how bad it really is. The title track opens up with a disposable French announcement welcoming the listener to a new era, a new sound...to Universal Mind Control. Anyone paying attention at this point can tell you it doesn't mean anything: the brief intro is basically just calm before the storm. When the song starts it's easy to ask yourself “is this serious"” and that's a question that won't go away for the 38 minutes that follow. It's serious. Very much so. And it's very, very bad.

Like I said, Common is not a club artist. It shows. But Common is only as bad as the music and the music certainly outdoes itself. Produced by the Neptunes alongside Mr. DJ (who most famously DJ'd for Outkast), Universal Mind Control is a techno-flavoured trainwreck. Not only does the music sound hollow and seemingly unfinished, but it's peppered with tacky, ill-fitting hits that haven't sounded cool for a good 20 years. Highlighting the positives is a struggle since there really aren't any. “Punch Drunk Love” has a decent bounce to it but the plinking accentuations and Kanye West's lethargic singing ruin anything it has going for it. “Make My Day” has a cool cybernetic soul feel to it and Cee-Lo thrives proving backing vocals as well as the song's main hook, but as a whole the song is still pretty awful.

Lead single “Announcement” is flat out annoying and from the first time I heard it I decided I'd punch whoever recorded it as hard as I could in the face if I ever came across them. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was the new Common track. I expected his music to continually get worse after Finding Forever, but I never thought I'd hear his rhymes as clunky as this. As nauseating as the song's main hook may be (this is hip-hop baby, I'm finna take it to the tip-top baby), it's lines like “Broads say are you a philosopher" Yeah yeah I’ll philosophy on top of ya” that'll leave you scratching your head in disbelief. Common is out of his comfort zone and yet he still seems to be going through the motions.

What makes the album worse is that sounds completely thrown together. It sounds like the Neptunes put all of their unused beats on a disc and dared Common to try to rap over them. Worse is the fact that---like this review---the songs have little to no flow to them. Everything is choppy and haphazard sounding and given the typically simplistic structure of a “club banger” this is a pretty momentous failing. “Gladiator” alternates between a well-used sample and an atrocious mixture of dark and apocalyptic beats peppered with an ill-fitting trumpet squeal. “What A World” is what the last Justin Timberlake album would have sounded like had it been released by Lance Bass. “Changes” is the album's antithesis: sounding grossly out of place, it's more in line with what Common made a name recording. Instead of overbearing electro, “Changes” revolves around an acoustic guitar and some occasionally calming, occasionally goofy synths. “Changes” may not be very good, but its the only authentic sounding song on the disc.

Anyone who's followed Common's career knows he was once regarded as a rapper's rapper. He made a name for himself with “I Used to Love H.E.R” and he made the world think hip-hop was his life. Six albums and countless action movies later and Common has spat in the face of a genre he helped solidify. It's as ironic as it is disheartening to hear Common, an artist who once vehemently disagreed with the exploitation of hip-hop, record an album that'll be best remembered for its ringtones. Common is not a club rapper and while he's a decent actor, he's not that good. Universal Mind Control is offensively bad. Universal Mind Control is a shitstained endnote to a once illustrious career. It completes a fall from grace of Satanic proportions. Listening to Finding Forever was like hearing your buddy was in the hospital. Universal Mind Control is like finding out he's terminal. There's no recovering from this. If you enjoy this album, there is something wrong with you.



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user ratings (197)
Chart.
1.8
poor
other reviews of this album
OffTheRadar (1.5)
Universal Mind Control is a jazz-influenced rapper trying to make dance music for the hordes of club...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


7925 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Not the best review but this was such a frustrating listen that it was hard to put it into words.

ninjuice
December 12th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Worse is the fact that---like this review---the songs have little to no flow to them.


Nice. Review is kinda weak but only by you(r) or any staff member's standards.

Also, where's the best place to start with this guy?This Message Edited On 12.12.08

Tyler
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


7925 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Resurrection is by far his best IMO. It's a near classic for me. Like Water for Chocolate is almost as good; the rapping isn't as solid but the production is better. Be is great, too.

Oneironaut
December 12th 2008


350 Comments


Its a shame, because I really enjoyed Be and Like Water for Chocolate. I guess I'll grab Resurrection instead of this.

AlexTM510
December 12th 2008


1455 Comments


I disagree on your Lupe Fiasco comment but solid review. I agree, usually really bad albums are things i like to enjoy. But this just seems a tad bit depressing since yea hes previous stuff was amazing.

Tyler
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


7925 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Lupe Fiasco is decent but the guy was hyped up to be some sort of second coming of Jesus when his first album was coming out.

AlexTM510
December 12th 2008


1455 Comments


lol yea i can understand that.

Lupe's Food & Liquor was the first hip-hop album I enjoyed lol. I use to hate hip-hop before so that could be towards it too ::shrugs::This Message Edited On 12.12.08

foreverendeared
December 12th 2008


14677 Comments


There was a couple good songs on Finding Forever, but mostly it sucked pretty bad

PunkItUp
December 12th 2008


207 Comments


this album cover features a pic of a jacket

just sayin'

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


4970 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

ninjuice, common's not really worth your time beyond Resurrection and Be. although a near classic for mr. munro, i cant really put anything he's done over a 3.5.

OffTheRadar
December 12th 2008


102 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

nice to see you finally reviewed this.

AggravatedYeti
December 12th 2008


7684 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

damnit Common

Iai
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ninjuice, common's not really worth your time beyond Resurrection and Be.


Seriously? Neither of those are even in his top three albums.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


4970 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

i think they're all okay, except this and finding forever.



common's just not that good dude.



edit: actually you know what, i forgot about like water for chocolate, that's my fav common album.This Message Edited On 12.12.08

shortz
December 12th 2008


201 Comments


I'm listenin to Sex 4 Suga at the moment and yeah... that's all I can say about this one.

Good review though. This is pretty bad so far.

danthug
December 12th 2008


5 Comments


there must be something wrong with me because i love this album. not his best, i admit but it still slaps.

btw horrible review.


and NO common should not act!

he is a terrible actor!
have you seen WANTED?
"fuck the code.." was his only line. haha

Thor
December 12th 2008


10267 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

As soon as I heard the Barack Obama sample I wanted to die. This album is so fucking bad and I agree wholeheartedly with this review

Digging: High on Fire - Electric Messiah

Ghearufu
December 12th 2008


87 Comments


I agree, this album is boring and the single grows thin mighty quickly, Common should stick to creative lyrics instead of the club sound. Kinsoby1, question for you, if Common's albums like Like Water for Chocolate or Resurrection aren't higher then a 3.5 what hip hop is then?

ninjuice
December 12th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Kinsoby1, question for you, if Common's albums like Like Water for Chocolate or Resurrection aren't higher then a 3.5 what hip hop is then?


There's a simple answer to this question: his album ratings.

he is a terrible actor!

have you seen WANTED?


You do realize his part was quite secondary and the guy (and the other actors) didn't necessarily have a lot to work with. (I rather enjoyed the film though...)

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 12th 2008


4970 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

ya my album ratings effing rule



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