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Negrophilia by Mike Ladd

Mike Ladd is both a (literate) producer of cutting-edge (certainly not that "gangster" stuff, word-up yo) hip-hop and an MC, one whose aim is not to make a spectacle of himself but rather to push the parameters of the hip-hop form itself. The title Negrophilia is, btw, a reference to the French fascination with American black culture in the 1920s. Here, Ladd gets down with the cream of NYC cutting-edge jazz scene with unexpected, unpredictable rewards. The results (which include post-production "cut + paste") are, alternately, a fascinating fusion (oh, that word) of rap & "out" jazz, and a mélange of sound(s) that defy categorization, neither rap nor jazz, but a soundtrack to an urban socio-political documentary screening in Ladd’s head. There’s not a lot of individual soloing, so if you’re picking this up to hear Roy Campbell and Vijay Iyer wail, you’ll likely be disappointed - likewise too, if it’s phat beats & catchy rhymes you seek for your next party. While there are solos, the playing is mostly restrained, ensemble-oriented & sometimes abstract, the individual tracks succinct, & the voices come at you like wisps of dream-fragments, the grooves subtly insidious and abstract to the point of being "ambient" and minimalist a la P. Glass & B. Eno. Experiencing Negrophilia is like walking in on an NYC resident’s dream, and like a visit to NYC, it’s stimulating, wonderfully bizarre, bizarrely wonderful, confusing, creepy, classy & a bracing learning experience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mike Ladd
  • CD Title: Negrophilia
  • Genre: Acid Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Thirsty Ear
  • Musicians: M.L.: voice, sound manipulations, etc.; Andrew Lamb: winds; Roy Campbell: trumpet; Vijay Iyer: keyboards; Guilliermo E. Brown: drums, electronics; Bruce Grant: loops; Marguerite Ladd: sampling. Includes liner notes by Mike Ladd.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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