CD Reviews

Pineapple Now-Laters, The Seshen and Black Radio


BJ The Chicago Kid Pineapple Now-Laters M.A.F.E. Music

With many singers going either the route of fist-pumping or of deeply moody music, BJ The Chicago Kid opts for a more soulful style that harkens back to the ’70s with a modernized sound for his debut album Pineapple Now-Laters. His voice may be familiar to many thanks to his guest appearances on songs by Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs, but this outing is all BJ, and the results are very impressive. Traces of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye are in both BJ’s style and lyrics—he can be both loving and introspective without sounding contrived. The hallow keys of “His Pain” delivers a narrative about being blessed by the man above despite the wrongdoings in his life, while Kendrick Lamar’s rhymes drive the point home. He flips the script on “Sex is the Best Breakfast” that drips with a Prince vibe and on the slinky bedroom jam “Good Luv’n.” All in all, BJ offers something refreshing and should be considered a must-listen for any R&B fan.  ★★★☆☆

Hip-Hop, Soul and Electro Fusion

The Seshen The Seshen Self-Released

San Francisco band The Seshen sounds like what would happen if you trapped Erykah Badu, J Dilla, Beach House and Little Dragon in a studio for 24 hours. It may seem like a unique hybrid, and it certainly is, but the band’s self-titled debut album is affirmation that The Seshen is on to something brilliant. With Lalin St. Juste and Akasha Orr providing soul-soothing vocals with lyrics that embody spoken-word poetry, songs such as the Caribbean-flavored “Night Sky” and the cruising “Upside Down” jump out with their pleasant resonance. Musically, the band pulls together electronic samples with thick bass lines that create lush soundscapes. “Broken Lines” would suffice as an instrumental, as the strings hum between the soft percussion and sparkling keys. The best thing about The Seshen is that you can hear influences over imitation, which ensures a unique listening experience that will hopefully be heard on a larger scale in the near future.  ★★★★☆

Jazzy Soul Music

Robert Glasper Experiment Black Radio Blue Note Records

With influences stemming from jazz, hip-hop and R&B, Robert Glasper has provided soundscapes for the likes of Q-Tip while touring with Maxwell and Mos Def. The pianist’s band has been exhibiting their awesome musical ability in New York City, and now Glasper and his crew employ a bevy of talent for Black Radio. Guests range from Meshell Ndegeocello to Lupe Fiasco, and each artist gets a different platform to display their talents. Erykah Badu slides effortlessly into the ultra jazzy “Afro Blue,” while Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def) riffs through the title track as a sparse drum set gets surrounded by keys and sounds like something that can be heard at your local speakeasy. Black Radio is an exhibition of musical brilliance by Robert Glasper, and artists should be clamoring to work with him soon. ★★★★☆