Accomplished soul artists Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, and Chrisette Michele are lending their voices to a new project by Robert Glasper. Rappers Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco will join them as features on The Robert Glasper Experiment’s upcoming Black Radio album, which brings jazz, hip hop, rock, and R&B to an apex, that is anything but predictable.
Recently, the frontman held a Black Radio listening event at the Electric Lady Studio in New York City. Throughout the evening, he occasionally moved to and from his seat on a piano bench in front of the audience to walk the venue aisles, and spoke on each song’s creation.
Glasper said he arranged the album’s leading track “Afro Blue” especially for Erykah Badu.
“I arranged this with her in mind, and Casey put a flute on it, because Erykah loves flutes. Luckily she was able to do it. She was in the middle of the Rock The Bells tour I think and she had a day off, so she came to the studio,” he said. “I actually always heard Erykah doing jazz, and I never heard her do one, and it just makes sense because Billie Holiday pours out of her in a natural way, like an extension of her.”
Glasper also explained how Mos Def, who freestyled the title track, influenced the album’s title:
“The Black Radio is the box, the thing that holds all the information. So if a plane crashes that will survive, and you can take it out and see what happens and why the plane crashed…So he said (Mos Def) ‘Why don’t we just make the whole plane out of that?’ so that’s why I named the album Black Radio. Good music survives amongst the bullsh*t,” said Glasper.
Noted in the jazz world for albums he’s released through the Blue Note with his acoustic Trio, Glasper has always cultivated his hip-hop interests. He’s worked on Q-Tip’s last album, The Renaissance, and was music director of Mos Def’s touring band.
At the event, he announced the album’s first single will be “Ah Yeah,” a duet with Chrisette Michele and Musiq Soulchild, to be released this January.