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 411mania » Music » Columns

The Savage Animal 2.05.14: The Album Covers of Common
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 02.05.2014

"Soup-or-Bowl I": I've grown tired of the hoopla. The "big game" has really lost it's luster. Maybe it's just me, but I think the Super Bowl is getting to be the "big lame" more than the "big game". I know that sounds cheesy and it is, but I can't think of any other creative way of saying that the Super Bowl has become a bit stale.

There were a few decent commercials, but nothing really blew my mind. The half time show ended up being better than I thought it'd be and the general hype machine around the game was pretty general. Despite all the attention the game was pretty much a run of the mill deal.

One thing that stood out to me was the way the announcers spoke about Peyton Manning and how horrible some people can be.

The rules of football have become a bit strained. Every other play is reviewed and commercials come whenever an announcer takes half a breath. The announcers don't really do the game justice. On this last game they just seemed to be waiting on the edge of their seats to be able to praise and love Peyton Manning. No matter what happened, we had to have a quick shot of Manning's facial reaction to it. Slowly and surely, the game was set in stone and the fate of the beloved hero was bestowed on us.

Seattle was booked in this game as the "heel". It's mostly because of Sherman's crazy victory speech in the conference finals, but most of the country was getting behind the "good ol' boy" hero that's Peyton Manning.

Afterwards I saw someone's Facebook status where they were tagged in a relative's post that was sad about the Broncos losing but was happy that "Sherman was put in his place". WHAT PLACE IS THAT? He's a Super Bowl Champion. He went to a top notch college and had great grades. He's not a dumb man. He might have been overly excited and hyped up, but I'm still trying to figure out what my friend's aunt thinks his "place" is.

These same people get crazy about the first amendment when they want to defend the free speech of an ignorant redneck character on Duck Dynasty. A man can spew some hate about a whole group of people and these stupid people jump at his defense. Then when an excited football player brags about his success after a big emotional win then he needs to be "put in his place".

It's not just one stupid person. I'm 100% sure this can all be said in a big blanket statement to cover plenty of ignorant people. This was a common theme. If an athlete shows confidence and brags themselves up they are "cocky" and need to be "put in their place"? Yeeesh! I'd just like to go on record and give a big F-U to these backwoods, hypocritical, Duck Dynasty-supporting scum bags. I know liberal folks can get carried away and over the top sometimes too, but is there ANYTHING worse than a pretentious hillbilly?

This is why I wanted the Broncos to lose. When you're in Indiana you're forced to see these types of people cheer on Peyton Manning for years. Now they cheer on Peyton AND the Colts because they get their cake and get to eat it too.

I'm pretty sure certain red states considered posting their flags at half post after the loss.

At least that cocky Sherman fella with the higher education, more money, and better health got put in his place…

In history as a Super Bowl Champion.

The Album Covers of Common
Rapper? Check. Actor? Check. Album Art? Let's See!
Common is one of the most talented people out there right now. Coming up from Chicago, the man has become one of the biggest and most respected names in hip hop and is rapidly becoming a damn good actor. He just has his shit together and continues to produce quality. I'm not going to pretend to be the dude's biggest fan. I've always appreciated his singles and music when I've heard them. The truth of the matter is I can name more acting roles of Common than songs of Common.

Despite my ignorance to the majority of his work I know he's talented and he grew up like 25 minutes away, but he's just someone I missed the boat on. He has come a long way since rapping local as Common Sense. He's now one of the most beloved figure heads of hip hop. This didn't happen overnight. Common has released nine albums. Today we check out the evolution of Common's album art.

Album: Can I Borrow a Dollar?
Release: 1992

This is a really cool album cover. On the surface it looks like a typical early 90's rap album cover with a bunch of intimidating dudes, at least a few with hoods and a sunglasses, huddle around the lens. We see that here, but it's the subtext that makes it so cool. We see two subtle maps surrounding Common, one for LA and on for New York. Being a Chicago rapper he was obviously stuck in the middle at the time. Getting fair attention and distinguishing an identity for the Midwest was no easy task. I like the thought behind this cover, but the execution is a bit cluttered. The album title font doesn't pop enough to stand out. It just sorta blends into the chaos. Still impressive.
Rating: 8.25

Album: Resurrection
Release: 1994

This is a nice simple album cover. It's one half with a black background with an overexposed and washed out blue shot of Common looking downward and the other half is a white background with a green splash beneath simple red fonts displaying the artist and album title. There isn't too much flash going on here, but it's still an engaging piece.
Rating: 7.0

Album: One Day It'll All Make Sense
Release: 1997

Everyone loves their moms, especially soulful rappers. This cover is an awesome showcase of just that. Here Common is 8 years old, wearing a hat or two, looking all thoughtful. The lovely woman with her arm around the young man is Dr. Ann Hines, Common's mom. The shot is from the two being a Jamaican airport in 1980. The photo just kinda lays there on top of a nicely designed photo album looking lay out. The colors used compliment the old school feel of the picture and the logo and lay out is clear and sharp. It doesn't seem like a lot is going on here, but this is a well laid out cover.
Rating: 7.75

Album: Like Water for Chocolate
Release: 2000

I always thought this was a cool cover. It might have been the first album cover I remember seeing of Common's on the store shelves. There is an obvious message and narrative here. It's a photograph, 1956 Alabama by Gordon Parks, of a young black woman in Alabama, dressed for church, and drinking from a "Colored Only" drinking fountain. It's an impactful shot for sure, but I like the overall package. The green texture and white borders and font really complement each other. This looks like something that could have been an old school Motown album cover, but one no one would have had the balls to put out. Cool contrast.
Rating: 8.0

Album: Electric Circus
Release: 2002

What a cool cover. It's a take on the old Beatles Sgt. Pepper's cover. The cover is a huge collage of the people important to Common. We see his friends, family, and influences all arranged around him in different color shades with a bigger shot of Common lurking at the camera right in the middle. Above the arrangement of people is a bright blue sky with the album title written in a typical circus font and "Common" in a really cool type face. This cover just works. It's impactful, it's art, and it's cool enough to want to put hang it on the wall and flip through it while listening. This might be my favorite cover of his.
Rating: 8.75

Album: Be
Release: 2005

This was when I think he was REALLY breaking out and getting the respect he deserves. This album is one of his best works so far and he's got the awards, ratings, and sale stats to prove it. The image is cool. It's a close up of Common in what appears to be mid-smile. It's almost out of focus, but isn't. The golden yellows and graininess of the image gives it a really cool tone. It's hard not to get a good vibe from this cover. That's hard to convey, but is done effortlessly here. Just like the music on it.
Rating: 8.25

Album: Finding Forever
Release: 2007

This is not good. I can see what's being attempted here. For a while this kind of graphic art/loose graffiti look was really popular. It was the "look" for a few years. It was in tons of videos, commercials, print ads, and pretty much everywhere. Sadly, that "everywhere" includes this cover. It doesn't look "bad" persae, but it looks like Common is the "sassy" spokes model for fancy hoodies. I don't think that was the intention. If so, mission accomplished. Quick, look away!
Rating: 5.25

Album: Universal Mind Control
Release: 2008

One part "The Matrix". One part "Grease". This album cover is strange one. It's a shadowy "bust shot" of who I assume is Common. The background is white, with the track list in a lighter font. Layered over him are cyber-looking waves and a simple digital font for the album title. I don't know what they're going for here. This cover is actually hard to look at.
Rating: 5.75

Album: The Dreamer/The Believer
Release: 2011

This is a bad ass looking album cover. It's something straight out of the trippy LP covers from back in the day. We see an explosion of golds, browns, bronzes, blacks, and various depths of shadow. It's hard to really explain what's going on. Is there an explosion surrounding a diamond shape or are we seeing the reflection of a pyramid shape? The whole triangle/pyramid thing associated with hip hop and the illuminati is getting out of hand, but we'll let it slide because this looks awesome.
Rating: 8.25

What is YOUR favorite Common album cover?

"Mike Goodpaster's Unpaid Programming"


I'm surprised I never saw this movie until just recently. For some reason I just never crossed paths with this 1989 drama some million years later. The movie stars Gary Oldman as former soldier who can't make way back at home. In a suicide attempt he tried to get the police to shoot him after an outburst. This lands him in a mental institution. There he meets an inmate Dennis Hopper and discovers how brutal and horrible the doctors and staff are in their treatment of the tortured patients. It's a pretty damn intense movie that's based on a true story. This was at the time when this kind of thing could be swept under the rug and evil could prevail. The story of real people this movie was based off of is a big reason why Florida had to change their system. Dennis Hopper is engaging and scary at the same time. You trust him, but you're still weary. Gary Oldman is amazing in the lead role. You feel his pain and you have no choice but to want justice for him and the others in the story. It was a really good movie, but nothing too great. Oldman's performance is outstanding, but the move is pretty forgettable and paint-by-numbers once it all starts to boil down. It's a really intense and in your face version of a made for TV movie. That's not an insult, but a fair assessment of the movie. It's worth checking out if you come across it, but I wouldn't necessarily say its essential watching. B

"Worst Case Scenario" is a new take on the concept of "fantasy booking". For years professional wrestling fans would spend endless hours of thinking up the coolest things that could happen. Why waste the energy? This only leads to high expectations. "Worst Case Scenario" flips that. Instead of looking through rose colored glasses, let's take a bi-weekly look at the worst possible scenarios in professional wrestling. I'm not going to be malicious or anything too mean, but I will not refrain from letting my brain come up with the worst possible shit I can. Sadly, it seems the writers and producers of mainstream TV wrestling and the mainstream iPPV level indies are doing the same thing but charging us for it. And now…

"TNA Adopts Sport Rules!"

TNA has tried to be more "cutting edge" in the past. They've even had a tie-in with the UFC and MMA for a cup of coffee. It just didn't work. The crossover of MMA and TNA just doesn't work. I'm not saying the daunting task of interlocking the two "sports" is impossible, but for TNA in this era it totally is.

But that doesn't mean TNA couldn't try other horrible ideas. To really try to embrace to the "rules of sports", TNA would adopt a whole new direction. The rules of wrestling as we know it would change. TNA would not just steal the rules and style of one sport, but bits and pieces from al l of them! Yes… ALL OF THEM!

If a wrestler uses a low blow, rakes an eye, etc. they will see a flag thrown. If a wrestler disregards the flag they are automatically disqualified. The wrestler who gets the flag thrown on them loses points.

Speaking of points, if you win a match you have a chance to go for a "Point after". Just like football. Say you get a 3 count and your opponent is still out. You can attempt to roll them back up for a single one count, like amateur wrestling. This gets you a "point after". You can even attempt to hit a top rope move on them for "two points". If you miss or they kick out you lose ALL your points. Harsh, but it's the rules of the NEW TNA…

In tag team matches, there shall be penalty boxes. If a flag is thrown in a tag team match, the offending wrestler is forced to sit in a penalty box for 60 seconds for the first offense, 120 for the second, and 180 for the third.

Time outs… yep, time outs! If you are caught in a submission move or need a break to get your shit together then you can call a time out. Luckily for the stalling heels, there is one per half.

Yep, halves. In fact, in TNA they will be adopting a "four quarter" match format. Each match will be 12 minutes. Four quarters of 3 minutes.

This is all leading to the obvious… pads! TNA will half to adopt a uniformed padded outfit. Each wrestler would pretty much be wearing customized jerseys with odd looking pads AND head gear.

The most important part of all of this, the refs get whistles.

Thank you. Goodnight.

"The LEGO Movie"

I played with Legos like everyone. I have a place in my heart for them like everyone else. But do we REALLY need a movie? Wasn't the "Fell In Love With a Girl" video by the White Stripes good enough? My problem is that we don't need a Legos movie. The fun of Legos is the escapism it allows the little builder to create for themselves. This is basically planting a "how to play with LEGOS" idea in little kids heads. They'll see the movie and then, if it's successful and it will be, they'll just emulate the movie. The cast is killer too. That's another thing that hurts. Voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Nick Offerman, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatus, Alison Brie, and Charlie Day. If that cast was involved with anything else I'd be in line already. Stealing the imagination rights of a child? No thanks!

That's all for now! I've found myself in a strange place lately. I'm constantly busy and working towards a goal, but the end result of the goal is not secure. I've taken some big chances in my life and have put myself out there as an artist, an entpreneour and as as a person. I wear my heart and my passion on my sleeve. These next few weeks in my life very well may shape the rest of my life. Then again, that's true for anyone on any day. You don't HAVE to bust ass on five hours of sleep a day with no safety net, but it just makes the reward and the journey that much more fulfilling. I'm full of confidence, but I can't deny the anxious nature to find out what happens to me and those I care about next. Speaking of next… next week I get all weird and look at some of the more famous ticks and physical mannerisms of music. It's barely comprehendible, but it's a fun aspect to dig into your music nerd brain about. After that, things are up in the air. I have a few ideas of what to ramble about, but I'm not sold on much. I have no more pre-written columns stocked up so I might have to bite the bullet and actually write more than the outros and intros for this thing. Regardless, you'll get some fresh content that'll BLOW YOUR MIND. Well, maybe not blow your mind… but something not too far off. We shall see! Until next time… Have a Great Week!


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