On February 28th, Robert Glasper dropped his fourth album entitled Black Radio. On this experimental album, Glasper fuses jazz with hip hop, R&B and even a touch of Rock. Features include Lupe Fiasco, Erykah Badu, Ledisi and
Mos Def Yasiin Bey. The jazz pianist did an applaudable job on Black Radio and delivered an interesting show at the Highline Ballroom on Wednesday, February 29th with the help of a couple special guests. Hit the jump to read on and watch footage from the night.
Going into the concert, I really did not know what to expect other than some talented musicians on stage and a killer performance from one of my favorite emcee’s, Lupe. I arrived at the venue around 8:45pm and like a normal NYC concert, the headlining act hit the stage late. The crowd was diverse, ranging from men and women in their mid 30s, to college students and older adults. It was nice to be at a concert where there was absolutely no pushing [too many EDM shows recently] and everyone seemed to be relaxed (seats definitely would have been nice though).
Robert Glasper went on with his band at around 10pm. The Rober Glasper Experiment is made up of Derrick Hodge, Chris Dave, and Casey Benjamin; all multi-talented musicians. The band started off the concert, with what I would think was an unfamiliar song. One thing about a Glasper performance is that he elongates all songs. Each song is its own experience live, but I have to admit that “I Love Supreme” was not my cup of tea. It is the Bonus Track on Black Radio and features Casey Benjamin repeating “I Love Supreme” in that beautiful autotune voice of his. It was interesting watching the use of a vocoder on stage, and although I loved the instrumentals, the 10 minutes performance on this one was a little too much for me. I don’t mind saxophone interludes (as a matter of fact, I used to play) or flute ones, but the repetition of the title of the track did not appeal to me. Then again, I could have just been restless from waiting for over an hour while standing, so when Glasper hit stage I wanted to see something a little more exciting. One of the highlights for me other than Lupe’s guest performance which I will get to writing about soon, was the bands cover of Nirvana’s classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. This was an exception to my dislike of a vocoder live since the vocals covered Kurt Cobain’s lyrics in a different tone with a fusion of rock and jazz by Glasper, Cris Dave, and Derrick Hodge. Another thing I loved about this concert was Robert Glaspers stage presence and connection with the crowd. Both Lupe and Robert were so comfortable on stage. They were cracking jokes at each other so fluidly making me believe that the Robert Glasper Experiment could easily be defined as a comedy show also.
Now to Wasalu aka Lupe Fiasco. Lupe went on stage to perform his feature on Black Radio, “Always Shine” early in the night and didn’t get back until 12am. But when he was back, Lupe made the wait worthwhile by stealing Glasper’s wallet without him knowing and calling out the number to Robert Glasper’s credit card. Like I said before, this honestly could have been a comedy show…Robert was dying of laughter on the side; how could he not be? And right after Lupe gave the wallet back, the band transitioned into “Kick, Push”. The rest of the night was classic Lupe with the amazingly talented band backing him. He freestyled here and there, didn’t stop the jokes and finished the night off with a memorable performance of “The Show Goes On”. It was by far the best version I had heard and he didn’t even have to sing the chorus.
Robert Glasper did an amazing job of bringing out a unique crowd and making the genre of “jazz” relevant in the mainstream again by incorporating R&B, hip hop and rock. Buy Black Radio on iTunes today.
Ledisi 00:00 - 1:00
Lupe & Glasper cracking jokes at each other 1:01 - 2:04
Always Shine 2:05 - 4:17
Kick, Push 4:37- 7:15
Robert Glasper Trying to Freestyle 7:23 - 8:15
Lupe quick freestyle 8:16 - 8:50
Words I Never Said verse 9:28 - 10:00
The Show Goes On 10:22 - end
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