Monday, December 9, 2013

Robert Glasper Experiment Presents Black Radio 2

During a time when positive, soulful music was lacking, Robert Glasper released Black Radio 2, the second installment to the Black Radio series, which collaborated with an all-star cast of some of the greatest rappers and R&B singers to grace the mic. The follow up rounded up an equal amount of talent featuring Jill Scott, Common, Anthony Hamilton, Norah Jones, Bilal, Snoop Dogg, Faith Evans, Brandy, Lupe Fiasco and Macy Gray.

The album begins with perhaps the most beautiful mic check I’ve ever heard, similarly to the original Black Radio. Fusing “Baby Tonight” with introducing the beautiful vocals of the artists on the album, the first track is a prologue of what’s to come. 

Robert Glasper Experiment, as he calls the collaboration, brilliantly blends Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B, and soul genres into one innovative project including a wide range of content, most articulately on “I Stand Alone” with his take on the lack of originality in music right now:

The irresistible appeal of black individuality…. Where has all of that gone? The very people who blazed our path to self expression, and pioneered a resolutely distinct and individual voice, have too often succumb to mind numbing saneness and been seduced to simply repeating what we hear, what somebody else said or thought and not digging deep to learn what we think or what we feel or what we believe. Now it is true that the genius of African culture is surely its repetition. But the key to such repetition is that new elements were added each go round, every round goes higher and higher. Something fresh popped off the page or jumped from a rhythm that had been recycled through the imagination of a writer or musician. Each new installation bore the imprint of our unquenchable thirst to say something of our own, in our own way, in our voice as best we could. The trends of the times be damned. Thank God we’ve still got musicians and thinkers whose obsession with excellence and whose hunger for greatness remind us that we should all be unsatisfied with mimicking the popular rather than mining the fertile veins of creativity that God placed deep inside each of us.

Many of the artists who collaborated on the original Black Radio returned for part 2 and are clearly taking an active stance in producing music that is thoughtful and imaginative, filling the void that Glasper asserts is missing in the industry.  There is nothing mimicked on this album, each track is unique and tells a different story of love, God, and loneliness.

“Yet To Find” features the incredible vocals of Anthony Hamilton and explores a past relationship and the frustrations of having love inside of you but yet to find the right person to give it to. Norah Jones appears on “Let It Ride” and with a sultry sound, she expresses the risk of deep, consuming love. Malcolm Jamal Warner speaks to the youth in the uplifting “Jesus Children.” Luke James sings the chorus on “Persevere” while Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco spit verses on the idea of determination and that despite the hardships of the world you’ve got to push through.

Black Radio 2 is the perfect follow up to complete an exceptional body of work. Jazz production, outstanding vocals, meaningful rap and relatable content set this project far apart from other albums and explore a blended genre that has the potential to speak to multiple generations and backgrounds. Jazz meets hip hop on Robert Glasper’s Experiment and its creation is music that fills the soul in every way.

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