Album Review: Black Radio 2 – Robert Glasper Experiment

Black Radio 2 - Album Review

It seems like moments ago when I was obsessing over the Musiq and Chrisette Michelle collaboration ‘Ah Yeah’, my favourite track on Robert Glasper’s 2012 album ‘Black Radio’.

Glasper has continued where he left off since his Grammy-award winning LP captured the attention of his core set of fans and new ones alike with tracks featuring the likes of Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello and Yasiin Bey.

Following the same format, ‘Black Radio 2’ is full of collaborations which name check yet more respected names in black music – plus pop, punk and even drama, this time around. Fall Out Boy’s lead singer Patrick Stump, pop vocalist Emeli Sandé, actor and Cosby Show legend, Malcolm-Jamal Warner all get a substantial look in alongside the likes of Jill Scott, Dwele and Lalah Hathaway.

There is absolutely no compromise to be made musically when it comes to Sande and Stump’s features. These artists are clearly happy to play to Glasper’s predominantly jazzy, hip-hop and soulful-based tune. ‘Somebody Else’ is an r’n’b mid-tempo monster and Sandé’s sultry lower range, compared to her usual soaring vocals, proves her worth as a serious singer with heart.

This talented musician, alongside his band, brings out the best of the other artists just as well – reflecting in Glasper’s previous work as a musical director. For example, he’s got one of the most impressive verses I’ve heard in a while out of Snoop Dogg/Lion, for ‘Persevere’. The voices of Faith Evans in ‘You Own Me’ and Brandy for ‘What Are We Doing’ stand out in the way they should do – so beautiful and expressive – and I also love how Glasper appears to challenge himself. He ventures into country music with the more-than-suited Anthony Hamilton in ‘Yet To Find’ and goes back to his roots with the super-fast jazz, almost drum’n’bass-like, sounds  of ‘Let It Ride’ with Norah Jones.

What makes ‘Black Radio 2’ for me is that I can draw on the collection as a whole. You may be excited about, say, Jill Scott singing the hell out of ‘Calls’ but Glasper’s keyboard doesn’t let up.  You never forget he’s right there alongside the vocalist, signalling who the main man is in all of this. He’s isn’t interested in watering down his style and it’s great to hear Emeli Sandé and Patrick Stump showing off their soulful sides for the increasingly infamous Glasper. It appears people have clamoured to join the Robert Glasper Experiment for reasons other than money or publicity.

Track list

1. Baby Tonight (Black Radio Intro)

2. I Stand Alone featuring Common and Patrick Stump

3. What Are We Doing featuring Brandy

4. Calls featuring Jill Scott

5. No Worries featuring Dwele

6. Trust featuring Marsha Ambrosius

7. Yet To Find featuring Anthony Hamilton

8. You Own Me featuring Faith Evans

9. Let It Ride featuring Norah Jones

10. Persevere featuring Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco

11. Somebody Else featuring Emeli Sandé

12. Jesus Children of America featuring Lalah Hathaway and Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Out now on Blue Note Records

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