Many may take offense to my specification of black radio and music so let me first quickly explain my case.
When one thinks of Black radio, one names R&B and Hip Hop as the only two genres representing black music. Rock, pop, country, and to a much lesser extent blues (a case can be made for blues but I’ll concede for the sake of length)–none of these genres have a black face. Sure in pop, country and blues there are black entertainers but it is not popularly accepted as “Black music.” R&B and Hip Hop are the only two safe genres that can be popularly accepted as black music.
I am ecstatic the world has woke up to the Hip Hop producer turned jazz pianist Robert Glasper. Glasper is from Houston and I first heard him on YouTube (of course) three years ago. My former drum teacher introduced me to the skillful, now one of my favorites, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave who regularly performed with the Robert Glasper Trio along with bassist Derrick Hodge. Dave possesses a crazy feel and a keen sense of time. He once said in a Vater interview, “I don’t like the way I sound on toms…” so he surrounded himself with snares (he used toms with Mint Condition and Kenny Garret. I am not sure when he stopped playing with toms) thus satisfying his “fetish.” Hodge has performed and recorded with Maxwell, Common, Jill Scott, Anthony McClurkin, and many other entertainers.
Damion Reid was the recording drummer for the second and third Robert Glasper Trio album, bassist Vicente Archer accompanied the two and recorded with Dave,on “Double-Booked,” the Trio’s previous album.
Bred by JDilla and Questlove, Glasper’s sound has always been the soul of true Hip Hop. Glasper frequently honors the great Thelonious Monk and one of his most popular songs is the “Everything Is In Its Right Place,” an original by Radiohead. Different genres comprise of Glasper’s sound but he maintains that jazzy epidermis. The Robert Glasper Experiment, with Hodge on bass and Casey Benjamin on synthesizer, played an intimate and animated show featuring Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West. The fan’s intensity proved we are returning back to the soul, simplicity and beauty of Hip Hop; the substance, discipline, and message in Hip Hop.
Last week the experiment performed on the David Letterman show promoting their new album, suitably named Black Radio. It was excellent to see Bilal on stage again displaying his jazzy vocals. Unfortunately ‘Daddy’ Dave wasn’t on the drums but Derrick Hodge was still on the 6-string bass.
The relationship between jazz and Hip Hop is nothing new, though. Miles Davis recorded Doo Bop; A Tribe Called Quest is obviously influenced by jazz and even recorded with famed bassist Ron Carter on The Low End Theory. Digable Planets, The Fugees, Jay-Z and countless others sampled Jazz which was heavily used during the early 90’s in hip hop.
Whatever Glasper’s goal may be, maybe Black Radio is setting the tone for the future urban radio; for 2012 and beyond. Is it possible? Meh. Maybe somewhere in the future. Far future. Fortunately, Glasper is already in the future. His music is ahead of its time. Black Radio, along with his previous works, deserves to be the face of Hip Hop. In my opinion.
Black Radio features Erykah Badu, Bilal, Stokely (of Mint Condition) Chrisette Michelle, Musiq Soulchild and others. If you appreciate quality music, vote with your dollars and help re-define Hip Hop.
“these are only my opinions”