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New Releases: Common Turns Sex Machine on ‘UMC’

This week of new releases finds the return of a Chicago rapper, an R&B songstress and Philadelphia neo-soul crooner. Common‘s new album ‘Universal Mind Control’ pencils hip-hop music into different boxes. With production by the Neptunes and Kanye West, ‘UMC’ is bass heavy electronic-light and extremely exciting.

The lead single of the same name is a throwback to the likes of Planet Rock style music while ‘Punch Drunk Love’ featuring Kanye West tames otherwise graphic sexual expression with descriptive poetic delivery. The Pharrell aided ‘Announcement’ reaffirms Commons’ archetypal flow as he proclaims “This is hip-hop baby. I’m finna take it to the tip top baby.” Then there’s the overly secure ‘Gladiator,’ whose incessant piano is reminiscent of a Dr. Dre beat. ‘UMC’ introduces a new facet of hip-hop music by mixing an old school percussions with the Neptunes contemporary space-beats. The industry is ready for innovation, whether they like it or not.

On ‘Human’ the fifth studio album by Brandy, the R&B star displays a more sensitive and relatable side. The album re-teams B-Rocker and her longtime producer Rodney Jerkins whose pop-esque tracks do little to test her signature raspy vocals. Every song is telling of the road to personal contentment. ‘The Definition’ encourages purging oneself of personal baggage and Brandy tests out the ink in her pen with the introspective ballad ‘Human.’ Though the up-tempo songs are a smooth journey the slower songs like ‘Fall’ and ‘Long Distance’ leave lasting impressions.

Musiq‘s latest ‘On My Radio’ is led by the duet ‘If You Leave’ featuring Mary J. Blige. The adult contemporary demographic album is chocked full of slow jams about love, love and more love. ‘Some One’ and ‘Love of My Life’ personifies what Musiq does best. He sticks to his niche of articulating the complexities of relationships yet always manages to make each endeavor as emotionally charged as the last. If you’re looking to get your two-step on be sure to turn to ‘Radio’ and ‘I Wannabe’ featuring Damian Marley.

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