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 and would-be seduction tracks more likely to cause snickers than arousal.

Having established a place in the hip-hop pantheon with albums such as 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.

"This is hip-hop, baby," Common sings at one point. No, it's not. It's the sound of a man who needs to take up golf.

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Ben Westhoff
Contact: Ben Westhoff

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