Since the new Galactic album has been getting a lot of attention on our airwaves (and apparently our blog), I figured it would be a good time to dig through the proverbial crates and fish out a review of their last album. Enjoy…
“New Orleans Jazz-funk-soul-jam-rock band Galactic has now got another, constricting, over-generalizing, genre label under their belts: hip-hop! On their 6th release, “From the Corner to the Block,” Galactic collaborates with some of the dope-est emcees that you’ve never heard of—unless you’re looking—in the spirit of The Roots. But the loose song structure that lets The Roots improvise so well live (but tends to let down the sucker who actually bought the disc) is one major difference between how the jam-band/hip-hop tradition is carried out here. The songs on “From the Corner to the Block” feature all the components of rock and roll songwriting that make the songs songs—and not just a hot loop or catchy chorus—(i.e. bridges, buildups, and breakdowns.) Other than four instrumental tracks (bounce baby, sidewalk stepper, fanfare, and tuff love, that all hold down the hip-hop attitude) every song features a different relatively underground emcee. Although you may not recognize the names of the emcees themselves, most of the featured emcees Galactic chose to collaborate with, on the album, are members of socially conscious hip-hop groups that are more familiar. (Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker from Latyrix, Mr. Lif from the Perceptionists, Gift of Gab fromBlackalicious; Chali 2na from Jurassic 5; Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets; Boots Riley of The Coup.) Each track was inspired by the album title and offers different angles of perception and interpretation of what happens “from the corner to the block.” (Whether it’s a place to “hustle in front of gramma” or a symbolic “memory lane.”) The album is solid and worth a straight through listen but, like most hip-hop albums, is not a cohesive record (in the sense of “dark side”) but each track ultimately holds its own. And, while I recommend all fourteen, the songs that especially stand out are “think back” with Chali 2na and “from the corner to the block” with Juvenile (also from New Orleans) who you might know and loathe from mainstream rap songs such as “back that azz up” (where the unique spelling isn’t even phonetic!) and “slow motion.” But with the help of Soul Rebels Brass Band, the title track is fresh funky and flavorful as shit! This is easily one of the most impressive and underrated albums of 2007. “From the Corner to the Block” is a flawless integration of under appreciated emcees and top-notch funk-rock musicianship that should serve not only as a standard within the hipster-hop circuit but to emcees and jam bands looking to produce albums that are worthy to promote live. The album can be appreciated by musicians and lyricists alike but stands out as a solid hip-hop record. And from that perspective it’s goddamn refreshing!”
Probably as a result of the touring that ensued (which featured the emcees’ own material with galactic as a backing band, galactic’s own stuff, covers, and awesome jam/freestyle sessions) gift of gab and lateef released “droppin’ science fiction” as The Mighty Underdogs which featured some of the other people on this album like chali 2na, lyrics born and mr. lif (among others like MF Doom). That album also did well on CDB.