Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Universal Mind Control: A Giant Disappointment

I recently purchased Common's eight album, Universal Mind Control, with high hopes of a three peat to compliment his previous two, critically acclaimed albums, Be and Finding Forever, which resurrected him from the experimental disaster that was 2002's Electric Circus. As a longtime Common fan, I recognize and enjoy his alternative, introspective style with emphasis on intelligent lyrics and profound subject matter. A major flaw in this album was Common's confusing decision to switch production from Kanye West to the Neptunes. Kanye West, a fellow Chicago emcee, supplied most of the beats in Be and Finding Forever; a contribution that played a significant role in both albums' success. Despite this success, production was handed over to the Neptunes, whose hard-edged sound is atypical of any good Common album. The title track, with its unmistakeably 80's electro beat, is a rhythmic tribute to earlier pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and remains one of the only half decent songs on the ten track album. Songs like "Sex 4 Suga," filled with childish euphemisms about sex and women, make it painfully obvious how far Common is out of his element. Even more baffling is his lyrics in "Announcement," in which Common calls hip hop his "bitch"; a glaring contradiction for a rapper who once called hip hop his girlfriend in "I Used to Love H.E.R." I hope other Common fans were as disappointed as I was. On the brighter side, I enjoyed the upbeat melody of "Make My Day," whose soothing chorus was sung by Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley. Even more impressive was Common's poignant salute to the success of another Chicago alum, Barack Obama, in the appropriately titled, "Change." Despite these two weak rays of sunlight, the rest of the album was annoyingly overproduced and poorly written. A very unfortunate set back for one of my favorite lyricists of all time. I understand opinions on this album are divided so feel free to comment, regardless of whether you agree or disagree.

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Back For the First Time

To my friends, family, and whomever else it may concern: my name is Evan and I have decided to "start" a blog. I say "start" because this blog has existed throughout my first semester of college as an online presentation of the entrepreneurial project I was working on for my course in Information Studies and Technology. Instead of abandoning my blog at the end of the semester, I decided to erase my project and use the blog as a way to share my thoughts with the online community. I have just completed the first half of my freshman year at Syracuse University and I hope to stay current with this blog through winter break and on through my second semester. This blog is not topic-specific as I will be reviewing music, movies, and sharing stories and opinions on a variety of different issues. I hope you all enjoy and feel to comment...

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