Review : Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
BBCSimply put: Black Radio isn’t just ‘one thing’. Rather, the Houston native’s latest continues on the same path as 2009’s Double Booked: it’s a dynamic recording of aerial soul compositions and unorthodox alternative rhythms, resulting in an effervescent glimpse into modern day jazz/rock fusion. But unlike Miles, whose uncompromised aesthetic delved heavily into expansive funk patterns, Glasper contends with contemporary RnB, building upon its stilted foundation with prominent backbeats and gentle keys, wrapping warped synths around more orthodox instrumentals. At times this music carries the same muffled grittiness as golden-age hip hop, even if the mood is oceanic and free wielding.
Overall, Black Radio surpasses the excellence of Double Booked, which is a brilliant album in its own right. But while said previous recording was a segregated look into Glasper’s conventional and outlandish affinities, Black Radio blends those ideals into one coherent set. While Glasper isn’t quite an icon, he certainly studies the book of Miles....full text
L.A. TimesAnchored by Glasper’s masterful, hypnotic work on piano and Rhodes, and filled with cameos by the likes of Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, Yasmin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), Lupe Fiasco and more, it’s a sensuous and smoky affair. Its participants are jazz in essence, if not always in practice. Erykah Badu nimbly covers the Mongo Santamaria classic “Afro Blue;” Stokely channels Stevie Wonder on the propulsive “Why Do We Try,” and Ledisi’s crystal-clear voice soars on “Gonna Be Alright.” Social protest easily co-mingles with smoldering boudoir jams (Meshell Ndegeocello’s “The Consequence of Jealousy” is pure sex set to a groove) and the collection is marred only by a spoken interlude rant about the masses being too dumb to appreciate good music....full text
Huffington PostAs a medium, black radio was historically critical to the black freedom struggle. The infusion of black thought and musical expression onto the radio airwaves, particularly after Memphis's WDIA, broke the color barrier and began programming Black music 24-7. In this sense, black radio literally helped shape decades of American culture and politics, whether it was Robert Williams, in exile, programming his Radio Free Dixie show from Havana, Cuba in the early 1960s, young white kids consuming Ruth Brown, Big Mama Thornton, or Little Willie John as if it was contraband, or black-owned radio stations opening up its studios to the Civil Rights movement. In its most classic forms, black radio, was charged with expanding the minds and listening taste of its core audiences, recalling WBLS' well known adage (circa 1972) that it was "The Total Black Experience in Sound."...full text
NZ HeraldBlack Radio is not so much an experiment, more a deep, smooth mooch around in the realm of soul jazz and hip-hop.
It's powerfully produced, but there is this nagging feeling that some of it sounds more like it's from the 90s era of acid jazz and nu jazz than now.
And, if anything, you want the album to be more spacey, atmospheric and a little freaky, but it is often too content to lope along in the background.
The exceptions include the last track, a simmering and fruity vocoder cover version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, and the jittery jazz and hard-out electronic gospel soul of Why Do We Try?....full text
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