Robert Glasper is clearly familiar with Hollywood’s rule for sequels.
Following in the footsteps of 2012’s genre-mashing “Black Radio,” which blended jazz and hip-hop into a distinct, Grammy-winning mix (in the R&B category), Glasper aims for bigger and better in his follow-up. There are fewer covers, Casey Benjamin’s vocoder is mostly sidelined and Glasper’s twisty piano filigrees — a magnetic underpinning of the first album — are scarce. Make no mistake: This is an R&B record, and a solid one.
So if you weren’t already on board with Glasper’s venture beyond jazz, you aren’t going to be any happier. The hooks are stronger too, as heard on “Calls” led by a near-hypnotic Jill Scott, and “I Stand Alone,” which soars atop Glasper’s cascading piano and a stadium-sized chorus by Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. Anthony Hamilton adds a gospel surge to “Yet to Find,” and the crackling drum and bass behind Glasper’s restless piano deftly counterbalances a breathy Norah Jones on “Let It Ride.”
In the album’s lone cover track, Lalah Hathaway takes on Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children,” which features an affecting spoken-word interlude by Malcolm Jamal Warner. The appearance draws a dotted line to Wonder’s appearance on “The Cosby Show,” which exposed a generation to the building blocks of hip-hop. Those echoes shaped Glasper, and they carry equal weight as those from Miles and Herbie as he moves his experiments forward.
The Robert Glasper Experiment
“Black Radio 2"