Posted by: JayAs you dedicated readers* may have noticed there has been slight drop off in my contributions on this here fair blog over the last few weeks. A couple days after Green Drinks I packed up my bags and headed on down to Bolivia and Peru for three weeks (photos at the bottom after the jump). The first ten days I was taking part in this fascinating partnership with a Bolivian grassroots organization focusing on social justice and environmental responsibility. As I am currently learning about sustainability and starting a green consulting company** it was a fantastic opportunity to see and learn from groups working with it on the ground in the poorest country in South America.
* I believe we have six dedicated, brilliant readers at this point.
**You know, when I’m not DJing, or blogging about DJing…
So what’s this got to do with music? Well, the whole experience of working with partners in South America on a positively inspiring project reminded me of my favorite Hip Hop album to be released in quite some time: N.A.S.A.’s “The Spirit of Apollo”. N.A.S.A. stands for “North America South America” and is the brain child of two produces, Squeak E. Clean (Sam Spiegel from the US) and DJ Zegon (Ze Gonzales from Brazil). Their whole goal on this project was to bring together different styles of music into beautiful harmony, a sharing of musical cultures from all over the globe. In this goal I would say they succeeded with staggering success; the creative energy on this album is palpable, almost every track crackles with it’s own unique blend of beats, vocals and rapping in styles that I would never have thought to combine. Tom Waits and Kool Keith together? Lykke Li And Kanye West? George Clinton and Chali 2na?? Sign me up! Plus having local Bay Area legends E-40 and Gift of Gab on the bill only adds to my enthusiasm.
Anyway, if you haven’t picked this album up yet I can’t recommend it enough. Lets hear from the N.A.S.A. team themselves and then get to the Beat(s) Du Jour!
N.A.S.A. - There’s A Party:
This tract exemplifies the positive, world-uniting, genre-bending themes that course throughout “The Spirit of Apollo”. Warm, fuzzy and powerful, the funky beat provides the perfect background for George Clinton and Jurassic 5’s (RIP) Chali 2na to do their thing.
N.A.S.A. - Gifted:
Of course the song with Kanye is called “Gifted”. Say what you will about Kanye (and wow, people have) 1. that fact that he’s even on this album shows that he’s interested in more than just himself and 2. he’s a much better rapper and producer than singer. Can we all agree on these points? On this track we get a vintage Kanye West rap (hallelujah!) over a fantastic electro breakbeat that could easily be dropped on any dance floor from Buenos Aries to Anchorage and be guaranteed to get asses shaking. Coupled with a silky verse from Santogold and strong, syncopated chorus from indie-folk hero Lykke Li* and we have a winner on our hands! Hey, as ‘Ye said: “I’m in first and y’all in second”