ARTIST: ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT
ALBUM: BLACK RADIO
LABEL (YEAR): BLUE NOTE RECORDS (2011)
FOR FANS OF: ERYKAH BADU, MOS DEF, D'ANGELO, JILL SCOTT
Words by Milo Craig
Welcome to the Robert Glasper Experiment. You won’t regret this.
First question: Can this record, one that uses tried and tested genres, truly be called ‘experimental’? A thousand times yes. With Black Radio, The Robert Glasper Experiment smashed all goals and hypotheses to deliver unto us a eureka moment of jazz/hip-hop/r’n’b perfection. Black Radio is a precise fusion record, at times transcendent, always beautiful. It pushes the boundaries of just how perfect an album can be and the best part is that it’s refreshingly approachable and un-elitist. You are in safe but ambitious hands when listening to Robert Glasper.
Second question: How the hell did this guy not buckle under the pressure? Just look at the roll-call of Mobo talent; we have Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Badu(!), a pre-retirement Yasiin Bey, Lalah Hathaway and so many more (bonus: it’s not totally exclusive, don’t sleep on the David Bowie and Nirvana covers). What’s striking is that there is perfect balance – no single voice jostles for space over the others. Each is afforded their own place to shine freely and equally, probably due to the sheer consistency of brilliant songwriting. It sounds like the music could only have ever been vocalised by each performer and nobody else.
Black Radio is an album that caresses, that communicates, that lovingly invigorates the listener and, like a smug dog that rolls onto its back to be stroked, I only want more. It’s an album to get stoned to and feel sonic textures but also to have moments of absolute clarity. It’s an album to make love to, it’s an album to be alone to in the middle of a rainy night, tenth glass of rum in hand, realising that all your previous days were shite and grey and life should be more beautiful. Hendrix had his Experience, Prince had his Revolution, thank god that Glasper has his perfect Experiment.