The conditions have to be just right for lightning to strike twice in the same location which holds true for studio recordings where the variables of performers, music, and other factors can affect the outcome. While Robert Glasper's 2012 critically acclaimed Black Radio (Blue Note) deftly combined jazz, hip hop, and "Neo Soul" to win Best R&B Album at the 55th Grammy Awards, its follow up, Black Radio 2, is worthy but won't garner the attention of its predecessor. With a new roster of popular names that include poet/rapper Common, the iconic Snoop Dog, and instrumental changes like the noted absence of Casey Benjamin's integral vocoder and reed work, the sequel is less jazz oriented and more radio friendly.
Yet Glasper's savvy production and recruitment of stellar vocalists remains, and once again, it's the ladies that steal the show with stellar contributions from the likes of R&B singers Brandy ("What Are We Doing") and Jill Scott ("Calls"). But it's the versatile Norah Jones who takes the prize with the irresistible "Let It Ride" where Glasper lays down his signature melodic chords and flowing style via keyboards and piano as the funky vamp percolates with wildly rhythmic traps from drummer Mark Colenburg.
Jones's misty voice tantalizes and provides fuel for the music's copacetic theme; one that's worthy of taps of the repeat button. It's a serious groove indeed and suitable for whatever your mode of transportation. Just for the fun of it, Glasper adds an interesting outro to the track with a recorded phone message from multi-talented actor/singer Wayne Brady who solicits a part in Black Radio 2 via a hilarious audition. It's a fine example of the musical habitat where Glasper residescreative, hip, and organic.
Personnel: Robert Glasper: keyboards, piano; Casey Benjamin: synthesizer; Mark Colenburg: drums; Derrick Hodge: bass; Norah Jones: vocals; Wayne Brady: guest artist.
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