Sometimes it is.
In the case of Robert Glasper.
Before I had seen anything about his current album Black Radio 2, I knew nothing about the man. I knew even less about his hit CD that preceded this one, an effort that was called Black Radio. Based on the general reactions I had been reading about the first one I truly missed an amazing thing. Taking that into consideration I vehemently refused to miss out on Black Radio 2.
Black Radio 2 is an amazing jazz album with a cool groove that cannot matched. The featured artists are a cadre of unequaled talents. Let me show what I’m talking about.
“ I Walk Alone” is a motivational anthem of sorts that can apply to anyone. With the smooth rhymes of Chicago rapper Common and Fall Out Boy front man Patrick Stump giving us a powerful hook, the song speaks of individuality and forging your own path as a person. This idea will often lead you to stand (or walk) alone towards that goal. Hence the title. As if to reinforce that ideal, the amazing Michael Eric Dyson says this:
“The irresistible appeal of Black individuality - where has all of that gone?
The very people who blazed our path to self-expression and pioneered a resolutely distinct and individual voice have too often succumbed to mind-numbing sameness and been seduced by simply repeating what we hear, what somebody else said or thought and not digging deep to learn what we think or what we feel, or what we believe
Now it is true that the genius of African culture is surely its repetition, but the key to such repetition was that new elements were added each go-round. Every round goes higher and higher. Something fresh popped off the page or jumped from a rhythm that had been recycled through the imagination of a writer or a musician. Each new installation bore the imprint of our unquenchable thirst to say something of our own, in our own way, in our own voice as best we could. The trends of the times be damned
Thank God we've still got musicians and thinkers whose obsession with excellence and whose hunger for greatness remind us that we should all be unsatisfied with mimicking the popular, rather than mining the fertile veins of creativity that God placed deep inside each of us.”
“What Are Doing?” is a song that presents a point that many relationships need to address. Here the featured artist, the lovely Brandy, sings that in love speaking from the heart and saying exactly what we need and what we mean are infinitely important to the thriving of a relationship. If not, what exactly are we doing? The point is made over a drum heavy beat and it’s mad well.
The song “Calls” is probably my favorite. It’s a beautiful love song sung by the equally beautiful Jill Scott. This song has Scott extolling the virtues of the man she loves and how he is always there to answer her calls, how he ‘don’t take no for an answer when it come to loving her’. When you really think about it, that’s a lot of what people want from love-someone who is always there when you call and has no limits within the way they love you.
“Trust” features Marsha Ambrosius and it speaks of trust, oddly enough. The basic theme here is a woman sees a man she involved with retreating from her. In much the same way she would like nothing more than to run away herself because of past hurts but she is willing to try and trust again. All she wants is for him to do the same. This is yet another personal and highly relatable track.
Other tracks to check out would be “Worries” featuring Dwele, “You Own Me” featuring Faith Evans, and “Let It Ride” featuring Norah Jones.
As I review this amazing album I am reminded that my ignorance made me miss out on the first effort of this kind.
It will never happen again.
Written by Lucius Black 2013