Despite his status as a happy, respected old-timer, Common has to rap about something, and his eighth album, Universal Mind Control, is a hodgepodge effort. It contains would-be club bangers full of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo such as the title track ("Charismatic / Asiatic / I hustle for mathematics") and would-be seduction tracks, like "Sex 4 Suga" [sic], more likely to cause snickers than arousal. Having established a place in the hip-hop pantheon with albums like Resurrection and Like Water for Chocolate, the South Side Chicago native has been palling around with models and celebrities like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams for some time now. But at least he didn't get the models to rap and produce on this CD, which comes off sounding as uninspired and labor-intensive as a Neptunes joint. "Punch Drunk Love" has a grating chorus from Kanye and Common lines like "We exchange like students / 'Cause I study a broad" and "I'm the doctor / I can hold it till my patients is up." But "Announcement" is even worse, with Pharrell spitting an unintelligible couplet involving Blow Pops, fellatio and Botox. "This is hip hop baby," Common sings. No, it's not. It's the sound of a man who needs to take up golf.
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