Universal Mind Control

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. He's still history-minded; the title track is textbook Eighties electro. Elsewhere, he name-checks Fiona Apple (the bouncy "Make My Day," with Cee-Lo) and dubs himself "rap's Ziggy Stardust" ("Gladiator"). On the Biggie-style "Announcement," he calls hip-hop his "bitch" — shocking for a guy who made hip-hop his girlfriend on "I Used to Love H.E.R." Only "Change" finds him back in street-preacher mode; it's a hopeful tribute to his Chicago homeboy, Obama.