By: Sarah Moore
Galactic's signature funk meets hip-hip on From the Corner to the Block (Anti), their latest release. Featuring handpicked emcees such as Mr. Lif, Gift of Gab(Blackalicious) and Boots Riley (The Coup) as well as New Orleans' Juvenile (who lined up Galactic to back him on his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show), Trombone Shorty, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, From the Corner to the Block is a party album breaking new ground for a quintet with a huge history.
The band was inspired to try and modernize the New Orleans sound after sharing bills with The Roots and Jurassic 5. Rappers were asked to pen lyrics about a corner, any corner. Most of the corners could have been any in the French Quarter, as a Nawleans flavor and fervor explode on this bombastic disc.
Produced in conjunction with engineer Count (DJ Shadow), Corner rocks and funks out with the shimmer of smooth, precise arrangements. Co-producer (and saxophonist) Ben Ellman says they "never set out to make a rap record," even though, with the exception of instrumental and DJ-manipulated tracks "Sidestepper" and "Fanfare" the album places the funk in the background music and pushes the MCs up front.
The title track oozes vintage Latin horns courtesy of New Orleans' Soul Rebels Brass Band alongside Juvenile's deep words and block party ambience. Stanton Moore's irreplaceable and unstoppable drumming keeps the soiree frenetic and happening, and Richard Vogel's keyboards remind the listener of Galactic's jazzy-funk leanings. The straight-up hip-hop "Think Back" features a dark, low Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), who recalls Grandmaster Flash with the ominous mood of Friday's character Deebo. The urban feeling gets glorified treatment as Chali spews lines like "But my girl at the time was heavy and pregnant" and "I used to live on 38th and Rhoads, a place the holds guns and gangs, pimps and hos." Most of his tongue twister lyrics would trip up a novice MC, making his speed and articulation quite noteworthy.
Sure to be a hit at the next cookout or dance party, Corner has all the major features of a successful crossover record: authority (guest MCs, Galactic's funk mastery, and producer Count), solid compositions, high energy and a modern outlook at two historic genres.
JamBase | Down On The Corner
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