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!
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.