Monday, August 6, 2012

Black Radio

by Robert Glasper Experiment

Robert Glasper's Black Radio is easily one of my favourite albums of 2012.  I've been playing this disc to bits since I got it back in the spring, and continue to be impressed with the range of talent Glasper brought together for this album.

Here are a list of the collaborators:  Shafiq Husayn, Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), among others.  Each artist, except for Bilal, appears on a single song.

There are a mix of covers and new material.  Badu does some amazing things with the old Mongo Santamaria jazz standard 'Afro Blue', and Bilal gives us a very different take on David Bowie's 'Letter to Hermione'.  The album ends with a slow, strange instrumental rendition of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.  Lalah Hathaway's 'Cherish the Day' is every bit as good as Sade's original.

In terms of new music, the fourth track, 'Always Shine', featuring Bilal and Lupe Fiasco does just that.  It's easily the best I've ever heard from Fiasco, proving what I've always thought - that it's because of the beats he raps over that I don't usually like his work.  Yasiin Bey also impresses with 'Black Radio', showing that the change in name has done nothing to dampen his skills on the mic. What makes this album work so well is the consistency of Glasper's vision.  

Every track on this album is good, and the cumulative effect of taking us through the best of what 'Black Radio' has to offer is powerful. 

No comments: