Black Radio III (Supreme Edition) Robert Glasper Experiment
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- 1In Tune03:18
- 2Black Superhero05:55
- 4Why We Speak06:19
- 6Better Than I Imagined04:59
- 7Everybody Wants To Rule The World05:42
- 8Everybody Love05:03
- 9It Don't Matter05:27
- 10Heaven's Here03:57
- 11Out of My Hands05:35
- 13Bright Lights04:02
- 15Therapy pt. 203:22
- 16Something I Wouldn’t Do05:45
- 17Lola Crying (Interlude)01:30
- 18My Queen04:42
- 21Easy To See (Interlude)01:54
- 22Voyage To Atlantis06:40
Info for Black Radio III (Supreme Edition)
Grammy-winning keyboardist/composer Robert Glasper has been alluring audiences with his hybrid style, which incorporates jazz, neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop elements. One of his top outings was Black Radio, released 10 years ago on the Blue Note Records, and the timing to celebrate it couldn’t have been better than now, with the third installment of the series. However, despite being thematically strong, this glossily produced music aims for a more commercial path that often doesn’t impress me.
Although finding limited thrilling moments, I would like to bring to your attention pieces such as the slow-grooving opener, “In Tune”, where the adroit spoken word of Amir Sulaiman is crossed by the sped-up trumpet lines of Keyon Harrold; “Why We Speak”, where jazz-funk vibes embrace the breezy voice of Esperanza Spalding and the unmistakable rapping of Q-Tip (founder of the alternative hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest); and a catchy neo-soul interpretation of Tears For Fears’ massive pop hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, here deeply sung by Lalah Hathaway.
My second group of choices is “Black Superhero”, a lustrous blend of jazz, soul and hip-hop with a strong anti-racism message as it urges every one to find black inspiration through the steely words of rappers Killer Mike and Big K.R.I.T. and the voice of BJ the Chicago Kid; and “Better Than I Imagined”, a R&B cut that brings H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello’s vocal melodies and spoken word, respectively, to the foreground while having drummer Justin Tyson flexing his muscles with kick-and-snare drum patterns in the back.
Glasper uses this album to uplift heavy hearts but don’t expect anything groundbreaking, especially in its second half. If “It Don’t Matter” sounds unexceptional, even with a competent vocal pairing between singers Gregory Porter and Ledisi, then the throwback dance-pop-soul of “Out of My Hands” or the drained closer “Bright Lights” are dismissible. Black Radio III is an uneven album with just a few inspired tracks.
Robert Glasper, piano, keyboards
Terrace Martin, saxophone, synth
Keyon Harrold, trumpet
Isaiah Sharkey, guitar
PJ Morton, keyboards, vocals
Jahi Sundance, turntables
Derrick Hodge, bass
Burniss Travis II, bass
Justin Tyson, drums, keyboards
Esperanza Spalding, vocals Lalah Hathaway, vocals
Gregory Porter, vocals
Ty Dolls $ign, vocals
Q-Tip, spoken word
Amir Sulaiman, spoken word
Meshell Ndegeocello, spoken word
has long kept one foot planted firmly in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B. He’s worked extensively with Q-Tip, playing keyboards on the rapper’s 2008 album The Renaissance and co-writing the album single “Life Is Better” which featured his label mate Norah Jones. Glasper also serves as the music director in yasiin bey’s touring band, and has toured with the multi-platinum R&B singer Maxwell.
The Los Angeles Times once wrote that “it's a short list of jazz pianists who have the wherewithal to drop a J Dilla reference into a Thelonious Monk cover, but not many jazz pianists are Robert Glasper,” adding that “he's equally comfortable in the worlds of hip-hop and jazz,” and praising the organic way in which he “builds a bridge between his two musical touchstones.”
Glasper drove that point home with his last album, 2009’s Double-Booked, which was split neatly in half. The first part featured his acoustic Trio, which had gathered a great deal of acclaim in the jazz world and beyond over the course of two previous Blue Note albums (2005’s Canvas and 2007’s In My Element). The second part featured his electric Experiment band and hinted at things to come, even earning the keyboardist his first GRAMMY nomination for “All Matter,” a collaboration with the singer Bilal that was among the contenders in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category in 2010.
With Black Radio, the Experiment band has fully arrived. Featuring Glasper on piano and Fender Rhodes, Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Chris Dave on drums, the band is plugged in and open source. Each of the band members is prodigiously talented and lives naturally in multiple musical worlds, distilling countless influences into a singular voice. “That’s what makes this band unique,” says Glasper. “We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it.”
Black Radio also features many of Glasper’s famous friends from across the spectrum of urban music, seamlessly incorporating appearances from a jaw-dropping roll call of special guests including Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), KING, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, Stokley Williams (Mint Condition), and yasiin bey.
This album contains no booklet.