Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 26
  2. Negative: 3 out of 26
  1. 80
    Tough and determinedly sexed-up, here you'll find talk of beefs, booty and bitches, rather than brotherhood. Producers Neptunes and OutKast's Mr DJ oversee this exercise in alluringly moderne hip hop. [Oct 2008, p.83]
  2. His eighth LP is most compelling where these themes collide, such as on 'Punch Drunk Love,' where the salacious production meets its match in imaginative innuendos.
  3. 72
    It's both disjointed and jarring, but it's unlike anything the Chicago legend has done before. Drop your booty if you enjoy such things. If not, try and appreciate those who do. [Holiday 2008, p.91]
  4. 70
    While we're used to Common in the role of poetic prophet or self-righteous rhyme slayer, Universal Mind Control is primarily a rhythmic celebration, paying tribute to Afrika Bambaataa and Jonzun Crew jams.
  5. Too much of Universal Mind Control falls conceptually flat.
  6. His flow remains arguably one of the greatest out there; it would just be nice for him to have a bit more faith in his own mind, rather than those of our uber-producers.
  7. 60
    The first side's carnal workouts are muscular of beat, but let down by Common's awkward dirty-talk....The more 'conscious' ssecond half plays better. [Feb 2009, p.106]
  8. Huh? A Common album without a soul-jazz opener? Well, rap's deep thinker wanted to make club bangers. So he got the Neptunes to shape this sexed-up set.
  9. As was the case with John Legend, who beamed into the club on his latest, the initial effect is jarring, even in its star's capable hands. But it also settles in nicely.
  10. We're approaching the dead of winter and are in the middle of a recession, and Universal Mind Control isn't helping.
  11. On his eighth solo album, Common stops trying to save the world and uplift the human spirit, and gets in touch with his inner freak, with results that are often more bewildering than sexy.
  12. [comon] managed to record a whole ten scenes, I mean tracks, over the course of the year, and at least three of them are listenable.
  13. Common’s inability to sound sincere about a man he spent two years championing is the most telling part of this consciously shallow caricature of hip-hop’s dregs.
  14. Common's here to have a good time, no strings attached, with uneven results.
  15. Universal Mind Control seems to move Common backward instead of forward, which for a lyricist of his caliber is truly disappointing.
  16. Universal Mind Control gets stuck in the same rut as so many other booty-jam records do: It's not all that memorable.
  17. He is a mimic of fine abilities, but he has always sounded like whatever group he’s glommed onto.
  18. 40
    The MC turns largely to the Neptunes for music, and their lithe, bombastic space-porno sonatas provide a vitality and playfulness he’s still capable of matching. But a string of increasingly awkward and thoroughly ludicrous sex jams finds him slapping asses, and may leave his devotees smacking their foreheads.
  19. Although Universal Mind Control represents a serious step backward from the successes of his recent projects with Kanye, it would be remiss to say the album is the death knell for Common's career or that he has fallen off in any significant way.
  20. So there’s no shortage of sick beats, but Common’s decision to dumb down his rhymes to a rude and rudimentary level comes off horribly crass at best and at worst downright embarrassing.
  21. 40
    In fact, the flair that is championed on most Common albums is absent, leaving a vapid display of good ideas with unenthused delivery. This nonchalance has placed Universal Mind Control’s release, regardless of its intentions, in poor form, doing little for progressing Common’s ability.
  22. It’s a blatant mismatch, Mr. Williams’s blunt-force id with Common’s casual gravity. The Neptunes, who produce seven of the 10 songs here, treat Common as an obstacle to be worked around, which, in fairness, he is.
  23. Not many of the Neptunes' beats really challenge Common, and his rhymes seem uncharacteristically empty.
  24. Universal Mind Control is offensively bad.
  25. Pharrell and his Neptunes exert a svengali-like control over the record helping Common release his most contrived and banal album to date.
  26. Universal Mind Control is a painful misstep from a talented rapper who's decided to be as nasty as he wants to be--which turns out to be much, much nastier than we'd like.
User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 25 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 10
  2. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. Jun 3, 2011
    0
    First of all any Common fan would know this album is shocking. He changed his style, his content for this?! Hopefully his next album will beFirst of all any Common fan would know this album is shocking. He changed his style, his content for this?! Hopefully his next album will be NOTHING like this and he be back to his old self. Full Review »
  2. PeterF
    Jul 10, 2009
    9
    This album is awesome. From best first track of album ever (UMC- maybe best song on album, definitely best beat on album) to great This album is awesome. From best first track of album ever (UMC- maybe best song on album, definitely best beat on album) to great turntablism in Inhale. In my ladder of US hip-hop albums, second after 808s and Heartbreaks. Full Review »
  3. ClifC
    Apr 26, 2009
    5
    Entertainment Weekly said it all. Big, big, big, biiiiig disappointment! Some good moments though ("Universal Mind Control" & "Everywhere").