Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will the Robert Glasper Experiment Work?

Whenever given the opportunity, I snidely inform you all of how much I detest much of the new music out now. It is why I created Throwback Tuesdays! It why I love TV One's UnSung. On Saturday mornings, I make an effort to get up before noon and tune to the classic soul that will be heard on Felix Hernandez's Rhythm Review because I prefer it to the junk that is out right now.

So when I do come across an artist with a style as fresh as Robert Glasper's, I breathe a sigh of relief. His new LP, appropriately entitled Black Radio, has been rippling through online sound waves since its debut two weeks ago. With successful performances on Letterman's Late Show and New York City's Highline Ballroom, and the number 5 album on iTunes, the Robert Glasper Experiment sent a strong message to the music community. It demonstrated how eager people were for creative, soulful, feel good black music. The former jazz pianist collaborates with a collection of underrated jazz, r&b and hip hop artists including Chrisette Michelle, Ledisi,  Lalah Hathaway and Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly known as Mos Def). Here is Bilal and Lupe Fiasco performing the track, "Always Shine":


My two favorite songs on the album is Ledisi's "Gonna Be Alright" and Erykah Badu's cover of "Afro Blue." Robert Glasper composes songs that weave together complex rhythms and melodies, showcasing each of the musicians' unique talents. While celebrating the diversity of incredible black music, we must ask ourselves why none of the music from our radios sound like anything from this album. 

One of the few conceptual albums to come out in a long time, Robert Glasper certainly sends a strong message with Black Radio. Black musicians from earlier generations articulated black thought and emotion in their music. This is what black music needs to return to. We aren't singing/ rapping about how we feel or about what we think. It's solely what we do. Absent is the soul that used to define black music. For the experiment to work, we need to not have people just enjoy Robert Glasper, we need them to follow his lead.

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