30 April 2013

30th April - Blackalicious' Blaing Arrow

Artist – Album: Blackilicious – Blazing Arrow
Released:  30th April 2002
Sounds Like: you’d like it

In rock, collaborations tend to be tedious, self-gratifying affairs designed to knock out a cheap hit single or when the respective parties have begun to run out of ideas. They remain rare things, and rarer still (almost on a par with a talking unicorn) is a good team up. For whatever reason – perhaps it’s a more sharing environment, or maybe the players are simply less pretentious – this is definitely not the case in hip hop and rap circles. Here, everyone gets in on the act, dishing out a verse each to all and sundry, or backing up the lead singer’s words with sporadic bleats of ‘yeah’, like a mild Tourette’s sufferer. Today’s album Blazing Arrow sees Blackalicious backed by some of the finest artists in the scene, with De La Soul and members of Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples getting in on the act, as well as less hip hop orientated artists such as Ben Harper, Zack de la Rocha and Gil Scott-Heron. Not only that, but the likes of DJ Shadow and ?uestlove appear as superstar producers.

Although they certainly don’t take anything away from the mix, Blackalicious’ skill and invention is such that this would still be a great listen even without the stellar supporting cast. Words are fired out with startling flow and consistency, and settle on each witty set up only briefly before moving on to the next, at a pace that leaves you gasping for breath. Their particular brand of hip hop sounds more modern than it is to me. It reminds of Action Bronson and Kendrick Lamarr, as well as more obvious references such as Outkast and Lupe Fiasco.

The title tracks samples seventies troubadour Harry Nilsson, has a bubbly backing (is that bong water, or something more innocent?), and culminates in a crescendo of strings. ‘First in Flight’ features the legendary Scott-Heron and is an impressive pulsating synthy effort. The distinctively voiced Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 (he sounds like an energetic Barry White rapping) brings the best out of ‘400 Miles’.  The whole album is a great refreshing listen and enhances the reputation of everyone involved. It’s also immediately loveable. Give it a spin.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Introduction: Bow and Fire – 1:06
2.       Blazing Arrow – 2:40
3.       Sky Is Falling – 2:26
4.       First in Flight – 4:32
5.       Green Light: Now Begin – 3:12
6.       4000 Miles – 4:35
7.       Nowhere Fast – 6:41
8.       Paragraph President – 5:09
9.       It’s Going Down – 3:44
10.   Make You Feel That Way – 3:26
11.   Brain Washers – 6:22
12.   Chemical Calisthenics – 3:21
13.   Aural Pleasure – 4:47
14.   Passion – 3:54
15.   Purest Love – 4:03
16.   Release (Part 1, 2 & 3) – 9:26
17.   Day One – 4:52

Listen to ‘Blazing Arrow’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdrossKXGb4

Also released on the 30th April:
2002: Trey Anastasio – Trey Anastasio

No comments:

Post a Comment