The Blacker the Berry……. The Robert Glasper Experiment – “Black Radio” review

Let’s go nerd for a second…

The Law of  the Conservation of Mass/Matter/Energy observes that these entities are not created or destroyed…they simply change from one form to the next… For all technicalities sake, the same can be said for music.  I hear the groans of  my friends all the time…”There is no good music out there” or “…its not how it used to be…”  Much to the contrary my friends, I don’t believe the the quality of the music has weaned at all, but rather the shape of it has.  Case in Point: Robert Glasper’s latest entry, Black Radio.

Robert Glasper is a renowned jazz pianist.  His works resonate loudly amongst the current jazz artists and even amongst some of your favorite R&B and Hip-Hop artists.  For his Black Radio, Glasper clearly flexed his muscles, recruiting Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Lalah Hathaway, Lupe Fiasco, Ledisi, Bilal, Stokely Williams, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Chrisette Michele, Meshell Ndegeocello, and newcomers KING.  Glasper and The Experiment’s ambitions with the LP was to create a soundscape for what his interpretation of what the radio SHOULD sound like.  At the end of the day, the output is phenominal and modestly placed as  one of the greater musical projects I’ve heard so far this millenium.

There is not a forced record on this project. Intricately done and stitched together with pin point precision, the album smoothly glides from Erykah Badu’s spunky “Afro Blue” to Lalah’s flawless rendition of Sade’s seminal “Cherish The Day”.  Ledisi adds her polished vocals to “F.T.B”,  a Glasper original from his In My Element album and one of the first records that he did that captured my attention.  Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michele are magical on “Ahh Yeah” and Stokely (Mint Condition) takes flight on “Why Do We Try”.  The album is both groundbreaking and comfortably sound, backed by Glasper’s superior key work and The Experiment’s excelsior work providing a soundscape that is lush and dreamy.  Their rendition of  Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is awesome and Yasiin Bey’s vocals on the title cut are as crazy as they are passionate.

In closing, I don’t want you too feed too far into this review.  Ultimately I don’t think I do this any album any justice in saying how great it is.  The proof is in the pudding.  I defy anyone who truly loves music to listen to this album and not be captivated by it.  Robert Glasper is easily one of this generation’s jazz music greats and Black Radio validates his chops.  Earlier this year, I predicted that it would be the album of the year–well it met and exceeded my expectations.  I don’t doubt the possibility that there could be a better album to come out this year, but….Good luck…the bar has been set.  Radio programmers take note.


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