Preview: Common’s ‘Universal Mind Control’

    You should already excited about Common’s upcoming Universal Mind Control (due Dec. 9) but if not, Common is certainly excited enough for the both of you. He gathered a small handful of people in Manhattan today to play the completed album and discuss his thought process working through the project and while any artist enjoys his work, he seemed especially amped about what he’s done this time around.

    Originally slated to be the Invincible Summer EP, Common explained that “I missed the summer release so I needed a title to fit the music,” and with the extra time, went back to the studio to flesh out the tracklist into a full LP. Production is handled entirely by the Neptunes and Mr. DJ (Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B.”) giving the record a decidedly futuristic aesthetic.  

    The ten-song disc (with a potential bonus cut in the form of a remix to “Punch Crunk Love”) finds Common going for a more fun vibe after realizing that his own DJ didn’t have any Common songs to play in the club. While the Chicago MC is typically known for being a “conscious” rapper, he felt that this was the perfect time for him to take a break and go for something a little lighter.

    “Everybody is aware now. I just wanted to make something that people could enjoy,” but while he does have several songs about less erudite topics (“Sex for Sugar”) and takes some time to just plain spit (“Gladiator”), he’s hardly dumbed down his lyrical content for the sake of the dance floor. Instead he tries on more rhythmic, uptempo flows and a sprawling, eclectic sound.

    While those that have heard the singles may be bracing themselves for Electric Circus part 2, Common is quick to stress that while he still loves that album, he’s going for something entirely different. He was quick to say that he “would never repeat an album I did before” and believes Universal Mind Control to be far more accessible. There are still a few of those art-house moments (“Changes,” “Everywhere”) but the album is less academic and won’t take such a trained ear to enjoy.

    Common wants to shoot plenty of videos for the album to match its visual aethetic and thanks to his increasingly successful movie career, he feels more freedom than ever to explore the potential for his music.  If this is what we get as a result of his acting, then here’s hoping Terminator 4 opens huge.