Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist who is well know for the Robert Glasper Experiment, which won a Grammy for each of its Black Radio albums, and his jazz trio. I first found out about him when I began listening to Jill Scott earlier this year. He just released a new album called Covered on June 16th, so I felt it was the perfect time to talk about him.
The Black Radio albums are a cool mix of R&B, jazz, a little bit of funk and soul, and hip-hop. They feature many artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Erykah Badu, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Ledisi, Bilal, Marsha Ambrosius, and Jill Scott. My personal favorite track is “Calls” with Jill Scott, I just love how the organ and Jill Scott’s voice work together. The drums are also on point along with the bass part which does not intrude too much and really fills space. The way that Jill Scott’s voice is mixed is exceptional too, the use of the reverb and delay is perfectly in balance with everything else. On the first Black Radio they do a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by NIrvana, I personally prefer this live take of the cover when compared to the album version. I have to say that I enjoy the song much more as jazz than the original.
His newest album Covered is an album of cover songs. It features covers of artists like Jhene Aiko, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Bilal, and others. It is also recorded live in front of an audience, which is a really cool thing jazz records sometimes do. Unlike a “live” album it is not a recording of a band on tour, rather it is recorded in front of an audience in a studio. Much like Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! which was recorded in the same room as Covered. The real stunner on Covered is “In Case You Forgot” a 13 minute composition which is absolutely phenomenal. Every piece gets its own solo and they are ridiculous, yet when they come together they blend perfectly.
The last two tracks “Got Over” and “Dying of Thirst” both have clear messages. “Got Over” tells the story of Harry Belafonte and how he overcame violence, the ghetto, not graduating high school, and being one of the few of color who have made it over. “Dying of Thirst” features children stating that “I am” and the saying the names of black victims of police shootings.
The final message is this: be proud of who you are no matter what.
That is what I think is really special about Robert Glasper, he understands that his music has a purpose more so than just to be enjoyable. To end I thought I would just leave you with this quote from Glasper.
“I look at things totally differently now that I’m a father. These kids could grow up to be those same people who get shot by the police. The world is dying of thirst, dying for change, for people to have love in their hearts. And until the world gets that thirst quenched, this isn’t going to stop.”
by Addison Garry (@addisonagarry)