From the Corner to the Block by Galactic
I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's time to get funky!
I've been a pretty big fan of Galactic for several years. Super funky, a little dirty, and a dash of jazz. What's not to like!? This is the group's fifth studio album, and it's a concept album in that it features alternative/underground rapper's on almost every track. The Meters got the funk, Tower of Power got the soul, but neither of those have had collabs from Chali 2na or Lyrics Born!
The opening track is one of my favorites. It's called "I Got It (What You Need)" featuring Lyrics Born. Super voodoo funk tune with some dirty, down-home rhymes from Blackalicious' emcee.
The next two have a similar sound to these ears. Both sound like they belong on the BMC stage with lots of cigar smoke and a sweaty glass of bourbon nearby. Mr. Lif and Gift of Gab lay down the rhymes in very unique styles respectively.
Next up is "2nd and Dryades." This one isn't a hip hop track per se. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe, Golden Eagles) tells a story in shorten broken phrases over an agogo-infused breakbeat that's heavy in bass and record scratches. Little different in content here, but still plenty of groove for the head-bobbing.
The next track "Think Back" sounds like it belongs on a Jurassic 5 album. And it should since Chali 2na goes in! The bluesy guitar and bass groove sounds very North Mississippi Allstar while Stanton and Chali bring plenty of the underground hip hop sound. Lots of reminiscing to be done, both from sound and content.
Next up is one of the disc's two instrumental tracks. This one, "Bounce Baby" ft. Z-trip and the eleventh jam "Tuff Love" ft. Trombone Shorty are both killer. They give wary Galactic fans plenty to love on, not to mention those of us who want to hear some killer horn/sax playing. Stanton does some of his most impressive drumming on these two, whether it be in the broken hi-hat patterns or the funky incorporation of real and electronic instruments. Check both of these out many times please!
Track seven, "Hustle Up" yields mixed feelings. It's one of the disc's most hyped tunes, and has some of the coolest rhymes. But, it also has a lot of offputting verses that I don't necessarily think are needed. Boots Riley is the emcee and he brings it... but maybe too much? You decide.
After a minute-plus jam entitled "Sidewalk Stepper," we get the title track with none other than Juvenile on the rhyme. This is probably my favorite from this album. Super funky brass, tasty second-line bass and drums, and thankfully, Juvenile brings it ol' school. If rhymes could be said in different genres, this would be rap's second line. Funky, unpolished, with just a dash of wit. You get the best of early Galactic with the best of the new in this track.
Next up is "Squarebiz" with Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets puttin' it down. This one has a distinctly different sound than anything else on the disc and it's hard to describe. It's a little more polished but thanks to some effects and Zigaboo-esque drumming, still sounds like it belongs in NOLA. Haven't made up my mind on this one. Oh well.
Three songs from the end, we get Lateef the Truthspeaker on "No Way." Kind of like "Squarebiz" this one has another sound and I can't really place it on the album. Got a cool hook and some quick rhymes, but I hear less Galactic in this one...
Before the last track, there's another minute-plus jam called "Fanfare." Who's down for 1:25 of groovin' out!? Anyway... the album's final track is "Find My Home." This one is a little different but thanks to the rhymes, I dig it. Even though, the Galactic side is a little weaker on this one, the rap is killer. Very ol' school in both sound and content. Ohmega Watts doesn't build up, he just goes right in, speaking about both the struggle and getting out of it.
All in all, this is one of my favorite Galactic releases even though it's a little different than most. I'm a huge hip hop fan, so I totally dig the concept here, but even if I wasn't, I think I'd still enjoy the playing by the funky guys from NOLA. Give it a spin for yourself!