I’m not going to lie, I’ve been sitting on this one for at least two weeks, trying to figure out how to go about talking about the album without sounding really middling. The gist of it is this: I like this album, but I’m not good at remembering what I like about it unless I’m playing it. No joke, I’m actually playing it in the background as I type this so I don’t lose track of what I want to say.
Friends of mine and listeners of the show whose tastes I trust have been telling me about this group for a while, and like I usually ended up doing, I added Flatbush ZOMBiES to the ever-growing list of “Artists People Keep Telling Jason To Check Out But Jason Will Get Around To It Eventually When He Stops Playing The Same Stuff Over and Over Again.”
One day, not even a few months ago, someone shared “Palm Trees” from their mixtape BetterOffDEAD and I wanted to beat myself up for not peeping them sooner. The next step was to check out the whole tape, and the whole time… I mostly found myself waiting on “Palm Trees” to come back around. I only remember that song and “222” if I’m being honest with you. That same sentiment, unfortunately, carries over to 3001: A Laced Odyssey.
Don’t let that last paragraph get you down. Again, I like this album. These guys can rap. Meechy Darko is strange but memorable (I specifically remember him from a cut on Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Piñata) and they all do a pretty good job of moving with the beats here, a lot of which I think are great. There’s just nothing that truly STICKS out of all of this for me. And I’ve listened to this album five times trying to pull out enough to write some words down for it. Some of the beats feel hollow and the guys struggle to fill the void sometimes. But there wasn’t anything that was BAD, which is why I feel so weird about what I’m writing.
(For those that are new here, my general rule of thumb is that I don’t write or talk about music that I don’t like or that I wasn’t interested in to begin with.)
Anyway, that’s what I walked away with after listening to this new album. I realize it’s not much. There were a lot of great moments here, like with the intro, “Bounce”, “A Spike Lee Joint” (my personal favorite), and some beats like “Ascension” and “Trade-Off” really bang. There was also a lot of fluff here to extend the runtime, like the interlude “Fly Away” and the last eight minutes of “Your Favorite Rap Song.”
Would I ask someone to turn this off if it was playing in the car? Not at all.
Will I be peeping their next project? Definitely!
Can I confidently suggest this album to a friend? Not really.
You happy, Dom?
Bounce, A Spike Lee Joint
Have you listened to this album yet? Am I crazy or do you feel the same way? Did I listen wrong? Drop your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading. And check out the new episode of the podcast while you’re here!
Kevin Gates, new Anthony Hamilton, a surprise SBTRKT project and Oddisee EP, Domo Genesis’ debut, and WHAT DO YOU MEAN AZEALIA BANKS HAS RETURNED FROM THE DEAD?!
We also answered some listener questions! We need more for next episode! Throw some down in the comments below or just tweet us.
Still kinda tired from Philly, so we’ll keep it short.
I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t skeptical about this album…
I am a huge fan of Esperanza Spalding. One of my favorite jazz albums is her Grammy Award-winning 2008 album Esperanza and I’ve gone on record many times to say so. Between collaborations with Algebra Blessett and Janelle Monáe and covers of Michael Jackson songs, I’ve been sold on her for years now. But earlier this year, Esperanza released two singles from her new album —”One” and “Good Lava” — and afterwards, I found myself lost on how to feel. She’s always been known to shift sounds from album to album, but the sheer shock value coming from those singles, especially “Good Lava,” kept me at bay. I’d seen reviews from her tour that she went on last year in early promotion for this new project Emily’s D+Evolution and for some reason, a good number of them were negative, saying things like “everything was weird” and “there wasn’t any jazz.”
These people were right. This new album is definitely weird, and there really isn’t a whole lot of strictly by-the-books jazz to be found here, but I’ll be damned if my skepticism wasn’t misplaced. Emily’s D+Evolution is a great piece of work.
It starts off with the very song I turned my face up at (even though I quickly changed my mind on it after a full listen of the album), and slowly begins to ease you in to the world it’s building around you. There are loud guitar riffs, ridiculous drums, and skittish “pretty girl” flows everywhere. Each song gets better as it goes on – or maybe it’s that you grow more comfortable with the vibe with each track. I haven’t really figured it out yet, even after listening to it on shuffle. Once that initial “wow” has passed, a lot of the album becomes a lot easier to digest. There is a very childlike and bipolar quality to it as a whole, with songs shifting from protests to lullabies in mere seconds.
Esperanza’s soothing voice has always been a pleasant treat in her music, and even amongst all the chaos here, that still stands. Her voice is hypnotizing in songs like “Rest in Pleasure” and “Noble Nobles.” Oh, and did I mention that there’s a cover of a song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory here? There’s a lot to love about this album, and I honestly feel dumb for doubting that Esperanza Spalding could pull off something so strange. I’ll make sure to apologize when I see her in April.
Judas, One, Rest In Pleasure, Noble Nobles, I Want It Now
Have you listened to this album yet? What did you think about it (and what did you think of this review? It’s been a while)? Drop your thoughts down in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
You’re talking to the Anthony Fantano, the Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd, motherfucker.
– Anthony Fantano, the internet’s busiest music nerd
OUR BIGGEST EPISODE YET!
Somehow, someway, we’ve made it to fifty whole episodes of this podcast. I want to thank each and every one of you who’s ever listened to us ramble on about music that we care about. I’m so glad we’ve been able to connect with you in a real and genuine way for over a year.
But you know how we do things here. From collaborations with Ignorant Philosophy to The Link Up to some of the guys from Dead End Hip Hop, we do it big, ESPECIALLY when we cross a milestone like this. So who else could we have on but the Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd himself? Join my friend Nick and I as we geek out over toothpaste, Big Sean, and the pressures of reviewing music full-time with Anthony Fantano himself!
So what did you think of our conversation? Let us know in the comments below!
I’m ready to take this up a notch.
Hello, person who’s reading this blog. Most likely, if you’re here, you already know who I am and what this is, but if not…
My name is Jason B. Russell. Nowadays I’m known across the interwebs as @jayburritos, the master of millennial music and the creator of Runaway Jukebox, a conversational music podcast. I’ve been producing this show for over a year now, and it’s changed a lot since episode one. Going from your favorite new hip-hop podcast, to just your favorite music show, to adding a full website and trying to start up a blog has been a large hassle, mostly because I haven’t seen any of these things (besides the podcast itself) through and they usually end up falling off before it ever becomes anything worth talking about! The whole reason why I kept trying to expand into these different territories is because even with over an hour of talking per week, I was still somehow missing out on music I wanted to discuss! But that stops here.
Every week, Kim and I (and/or whoever else stops by to say hello) discuss a lot of music in our weekly conversation, but somehow I still end up skipping over other albums or songs that I find and enjoy. Doesn’t that seem like it’s missing the point of what this brand is all about? I’d say so.
So as of now, I’m moving the website to a more blog-friendly host so I can communicate with you guys just like a blog would! Runaway Jukebox has always had the potential to be more than just our podcast, and while before now I’ve always half-assed that potential and grew frustrated with myself when results didn’t show, I can guarantee you that I’m done after this point. There are countless albums I want to go back and write legitimate reviews for. Countless artists I want to go back and discover. Countless genres I’d like to introduce to our small but engaged audience. I don’t have any set schedule on when I plan on posting, but since I have more people paying attention to us now, I’m not afraid to share more of my thoughts and opinions on one of art’s greatest forms with you. Maybe one of these days, we can evolve into a respectable powerhouse, complete with guest writers, artists, and an entire tribe of music lovers like myself.