Common - "Universal Mind Control"
Space is still the place for MC's this year. Leading the way are Common, Kanye, and N.E.R.D. Common's latest track, "Universal Mind Control," is a throwback to the days of Afrika Bambaataa, but it is kept current by an infections synth line that rings of present day pop music. The video features robots dancing instead of the common sight of humans doing "the robot." The landscape of this 3:23 venture is a digital land that is reminiscent of the mainframe in Minority Report. The excitement is there, but the song might take a couple of listens to settle in. It is definitely pushing the limits of what is considered commercially viable hiphop, and at the same time it is so far from most things considered underground. Leave it to Common to exapand peoples minds while asking you to "move your behind."
N.E.R.D. - "Everybody Nose" ft/ Lupe Fiasco & Kanye West
Kanye West, who often produces records for Common, might have been the one to usher him into the "digital hip-pop" music revolution. Kanye and N.E.R.D. teamed up to make a remix video for "Everybody Nose." This video features 8-bit style graphics, videogame landscapes, and flashing neon lights. I think Pharrell would have filmed it inside of an Atari if that was an option. This song has a club anthem feel, but the constant changing of the beat mixed with the techno kick drum patterns make it unassumingly avant-garde. (Not like the video did not do that on it's own.)
Common's video is a stellar stab at using technology as a basis for furthering the songs concept development. N.E.R.D.'s video is incredibly spastic and out there, but the low quality game graphics make it feel familiar those of us who play the first Nintendo or anything older. Both of these prove the future is starting to seem familiar.