For more than a decade, Galactic has been turning out soulful, jazzy funk drenched in the musical and cultural tradition of the
On From the Corner to the Block, the funksters take a definitive step forward by tackling hip-hop for the first time. Though the band’s sound has always worked well with guest hip-hop emcees—they’ve shared the stage with The Roots, Juvenile and Jurassic 5—this album fully embraces the tradition with collaborations from a veritable who’s-who list of hip-hop artists and turntablists: Juvenile, Lyrics Born, Mr. Lif, Boots Riley, Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Ohmega Watts, Chali 2na, Ladybug Mecca and DJ Z-Trip. Other musicians onboard include: Trombone Shorty, multi-instrumentalist Nina Moschella, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Soul Rebels Brass Band.
The album bursts out of the gate with three quick-hitting tracks featuring three of the most talented rappers in the business: “I Got It (What You Need?) featuring Lyrics Born, “…and I’m Out” featuring Mr. Lif, “The Corner” featuring Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious fame). From the beginning, it’s clear that the band is locked in to the specific rhythm of each guest. The first two tracks are led by
Other standouts include the brass-heavy “Bounce Baby,” with DJ Z-Trip; the sexy, Ladybug Mecca–led “Squarebiz,” with a chorus that could find a home on the next Timbaland production; the call-and-response horn-fest “Tuff Love,” with Trombone Shorty; the heart-felt album closer “Find My Home,” featuring Vursatyl and Ohmega Watts. There’s not a throwaway track to be found; even the two shortest instrumental tracks—“Sidewalk Stepper” and “Fanfare,” both well under two minutes—are worth a listen and could have been extended.
It’s possible that some diehard Galactic fans may shy away from the band’s approach to this album, but let’s hope that there are enough open-minded listeners to give From the Corner to the Block—one of the most enjoyable recordings of 2007—the wide audience it deserves.