Black Radio

Album Review of Black Radio by Robert Glasper.

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Black Radio

Robert Glasper

Black Radio by Robert Glasper

Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Blue Note
Genre(s): Rap, Jazz, R&B, Adult Contemporary R&B, Contemporary Jazz, Alternative R&B

83 Music Critic Score
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Black Radio - Excellent, Based on 7 Critics

Rolling Stone - 100
Based on rating 5/5
100

On Black Radio, pianist Robert Glasper heads down the fraught path of hip-hop jazz and gets it right. The "experiment" spirit pervades the entire album, informing everything from song structures to production. Essential, too, are Chris Dave's crackling drum grooves, and the depth of tradition: Erykah Badu wriggling into the soul-jazz standard "Afro Blue," Lupe Fiasco shouting out Gil Scott-Heron and James Baldwin on "Always Shine." With music this smart and inviting, the implied diss of mainstream mediocrity doesn't feel like sour grapes; it feels like a blueprint forward.

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AllMusic - 90
Based on rating 9/10
90

Black Radio, the title of the Robert Glasper Experiment's proper Blue Note debut, is a double signifier. There's the dictionary's definition: "the device in an aircraft that records technical data during a flight, used in case of accident to discover its cause." And there's Angelika Beener's in her liner essay. She defines Black Radio as "representative of the veracity of Black music" which has been "...emulated, envied and countlessly re-imagined by the rest of the world...." With jazz as its backbone, Glasper, drummer Chris Dave, bassist Derrick Hodge, and Casey Benjamin on reeds, winds, and vocoder, cued by the inspiration of black music's illustrious cultural past, try to carve out a creative place for its future.

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The Guardian - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

With his 2009 album Double Booked, pianist Robert Glasper pretended to be booked for a hip-hop gig and a jazz show on the same night – a device to join his formidable jazz skills to the urban music he so clearly enjoys. This set takes the process further, with Glasper's regular band joined by Erykah Badu (on a unique account of the classic Afro-Blue), Lalah Hathaway (Donny Hathaway's "first daughter of soul", on Cherish the Day), and R&B singer Chrisette Michele, who appears alongside Musiq Soulchild on the soul ballad Ah Yeah. Meshell Ndegeocello's pure sound is cushioned by piano, percussion and vocal overdubs on Consequences of Jealousy.

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PopMatters - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

It is endlessly the dream of jazz musicians to use contemporary pop music as the fuel for their experiments and improvisations. If jazz once seemed stuck on the “standards” of Tin Pan Alley from the 1920s through ‘50s, then the last two decades have brought countless “new standards” projects interpreting rock era tunes by the Beatles, Radiohead, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder, you name it. Jazz and hip-hop have met on projects from both sides of the tracks as well—from Black Star to jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

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BBC Music
Their review was very positive

Glasper’s exceptional new LP merges jazz with alternative sounds. Marcus J. Moore 2012 As legend has it, iconic trumpeter Miles Davis had grown tired of contemporary jazz rhythms by the late-60s. Instead, the raspy revolutionary was in search of a more visceral sound, something that transcended the constraints of traditional suit-and-tie bebop and drifted into more electronic musical genres.

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Austin Chronicle
Their review was generally favourable

Houston-born pianist Bob Glasper is well-grounded in both jazz and hip-hop, having worked with Mos Def, Roy Hargrove, Q-Tip, Terence Blanchard, Maxwell, and more. While this experiment tries to transcend the boundaries of genre, ears attuned to the jazz world of Blue Note Records will find the music largely ensconced in the hip-hop/R&B side of the spectrum, with a roster of guests including Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Lupe Fiasco. Nonetheless, Glasper's formidable jazz chops are the album's constant attribute.

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American Songwriter
Their review was only somewhat favourable

Houston-born pianist Bob Glasper is well-grounded in both jazz and hip-hop, having worked with Mos Def, Roy Hargrove, Q-Tip, Terence Blanchard, Maxwell, and more. While this experiment tries to transcend the boundaries of genre, ears attuned to the jazz world of Blue Note Records will find the music largely ensconced in the hip-hop/R&B side of the spectrum, with a roster of guests including Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Lupe Fiasco. Nonetheless, Glasper's formidable jazz chops are the album's constant attribute.

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