Black Radio 2, released last Tuesday by the Robert Glasper Experiment, is at the forefront of a new genre-blending movement. This album is more than a just few tracks with good musicality, it represents an emerging musical culture.
Building off of the enormous success garnered by Black Radio released in 2012, Glasper continues to channel his creative drive in a similar vein on Black Radio 2. Although rooted in jazz, influences from many styles are abundantly clear. Glasper’s virtuoso jazz piano playing sits on top of grooves laden with heavily syncopated hip-hop drumbeats and bass lines. Vocalists borrow from R&B to lend unmatched soul, while rappers provide commentary that is both emotionally and intellectually stimulating. Glasper, once known for his work in acoustic jazz combos, is not discriminant in where he draws inspiration from. This album is bringing jazz, and other related genres, into a new phase by combining influence.
No where else can you find such diverse guest appearances as on Black Radio 2. Glasper’s interest in all forms of music is even more apparent from whom he chooses to collaborate with. “Let it Ride,” featuring Norah Jones, showcases soft vocals with a backing groove similar to that of European club music. Sustained jazz chords coming from an electric piano work to fill out this track’s ultra-smooth and hip sound. “Persevere,” featuring Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco, uses an electric piano vamp and in-the-pocket drumbeat to support the powerful raps that are to be expected from such accomplished artists. “I Stand Alone” includes Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and rapper Common who create a catchy melody and thoughtful rap, while African-American scholar Michael Eric Dyson provides an emotionally moving commentary stressing the importance of expressing your true self without blindly copying and following the work of others.
It is clear that the Glasper Experiment has broken through the repetitiveness and the mind-numbing unoriginality that is too often associated with popular music and arts. This album expresses creativity in its purest form.
Inspiration is drawn from all different musical sources, breaking the barriers that artificially define and categorize music into specific genres. This album is only the beginning of a musical movement that will serve to influence many generations of musicians and listeners to come.