We reviewed Robert Glasper Experiment’s Black Radio 2.
Considering how much of a fanboy I was of the first instalment of Black Radio, it was only fair that I reviewed the second offering from the awe-inspiring Robert Glasper Experiment. When it comes to album releases, I initially look at two things: the cover art, and the track list. Both of which had me more excited than when my cat gets food. Or when he casually chases a terrified pigeon around my conservatory, destroying everything possible in the process. Seriously. This actually happened.
Any fans of R&B would have shrieked in excitement when seeing the features on BR2: Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Brandy, Dwele, Anthony Hamilton and Faith Evans to name a few; with Hip-Hop stalwarts Snoop (Dogg, this time ’round), Common and the returning Lupe Fiasco, added for good measure. The expectations for this album were, frankly, high as fuck which is probably why BR2 seemed quite underwhelming for me – and dare I say it – for jazz. There were undoubted sprinkles of genius from Robert Glasper but he plays a considerably quieter role in this overall body of work, allowing vocals to control and breathe. You’d think I would prefer this, but the collaborations – again – didn’t quite live up to how I expected them to sound. Jill Scott (“Calls”), Brandy (“Who We Are”) and Marsha (“Trust”) who were perfectly fine vocally, never really had me clamouring to repeat the records unlike, for instance, the Musiq/Chrisette Michele record did from BR1.
However, UK representative Emeli Sandé shines on “Somebody Else”, sounding completely at home on a Robert Glasper Experiment composition. More of this please, Emeli! Norah Jones (with a massive nod to Mark Colenburg) in “Let It Ride” and Dwele (“Worries”) also make great cameo appearances; and Anthony Hamilton (“Yet To Find”) is ever-present as always.
In fairness, it’s a very good body of work that can stand on its own two feet, but it felt a lot less Experimental, and a lot more… safe. Saying that though, most reviews I’ve read have been very positive, with particular praise being given to the songs I preferred least. Maybe I’m just losing it.