Thursday, 12 February 2009

N.A.S.A. - The Spirit of Apollo (ANTI 2009)

This album is nuts. It is crazy. It is full of life and character and complete mayhem. It’s the most over-indulgent album this year. It’s the hip-hop record most likely to appear to the hipsterrati, who tend to shy away from booming beats and aggressive rhythmical talking in favour of spiky angular singing. Squeak E. Clean is Spike Jonze’s brother and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ producer. DJ Zegon is a Brazilian baille funk wunderbar kid. This album is their chance to have a wet dream stellar cast. The wealth and richness of the cast of collaborators overweighs the album itself and I found myself loving it, salivating for it, lusting after it, obsessing over it for the first five spectacular listens, so won-over by the castlist was I. Only after the novelty died down did the cracks start to appear. But then, I thought, screw it, this is spectacular.

Nick Zinner and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Posthumous Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Method Man
Lykke Li
Lovefoxxx from CSS
Tom Waits
David Byrne
Kanye West
Fatlip from The Pharcyde
George Clinton

Phew, there are still more but these are the standouts. From the funk and yelp of Clinton and Chali 2Na’s rallying ‘There’s a Party Going On’ to Sizzla and Lovefoxxx’s soca-dripping ‘A Volta’, the disparate gamut of the hip-hop experience is lifted. It’s never downbeat, never too thoughtful or sombre. This is block-rocking party music throughout. Kanye and Santogold drip class and sophistication on the poptastic electro-beast that is ‘Gifted’ while the tailend of the album descends into booty-shaking entertaining baille funk. The true mastery of this album is the way the stars are mixed up. To hear Karen O alongside ODB suddenly sounds perfect, while Tom Waits’ disturbing wails offset Kool Keith’s spacious special raps. MIA, Spank Rock and Nick Zinner all bring disgusting riddims to the beguilingly aggressive and brilliant ‘Whatchudoing’. Ultimately, this is an album with no cohesive theme nor political agenda, nor concept like similar forays by Handsome Boy Modelling School and others, but it is the most interesting use of its cast. The production is tight and fun and always light, full of bass and bounce, while the castlist is a constantly rewarding treat. Treat yourself hipsters, rap isn’t scary, here, it’s just ridiculously funky. Essential listening.

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