Common: Universal Mind Control
The biggest misconception about Chicago MC Common is that he is some granola eating, sandal and dashiki wearing, neo bohemian hippie rapper. Sure, he does have that side to him (mostly on his last album “Finding Forever”) but the truth is Common is more adept to spew a clever punch line over Primo scratches then a back pack cliché over an obscure sample (sans his experimental rap album “Electric Circus”). Common has remained relevant in a fickle industry by staying true to his metaphor and simile roots and being astute enough to realize which beats fit him instead of running to the latest super producer for the new hot sound. Even his pairing with Kanye made complete sense given the soulful nature of Common’s past work and Kanye’s uncanny ability to make a chopped soul sample sound as if the artist made it yesterday. The latter half of Common’s music catalogue finds Common balancing his raw hip hop roots with a more laid back jazz vibe.
However, if the first single to Common’s yet to be released “Invincible Summer” is indication; we may be finding an MC on the cusp of reinvention. The first thing the listener recognizes as the song “Universal Mind Control” begins is that Common is obviously embracing the electro hip hop house sound that has been pervasive for about a year and a half now. But, when he starts rhyming the reminder that electro hip hop is nothing new comes swiftly as Common uses a familiar staccato rhyme pattern utilized in the early days of hip hop. Pharrell eventually chimes in on the chorus with a very Afrika Bambata-ish echo effect galvanizing B-boys to the dance floor. The computer funk sound gives the song a refreshing vintage yet current feel.