There aren’t many musicians that have combined hip-hop and jazz in a way that feels equally a part of both genres. There are countless examples of jazz with a hip-hop twist or hip-hop made with jazz samples, and both approaches are cool. But as far as I can tell, no one has brought these two enormous spheres of black American music together with quite as much success and authenticity as Robert Glasper.
Fuck Yo Feelings follows The Robert Glasper Experiment’s previous groundbreaking albums, Black Radio (2012) and Black Radio 2 (2013). It’s hard to put your finger on which half of this music is jazz and which half is hip-hop and that’s exactly what’s so great about it.
Rhythmically, Glasper is carrying on the traditions of J Dilla and the Soulaquarian production team behind D’Angelo’s Voodoo by showcasing live drums that have that electronic, quantized swing to them. The snares or kicks hit a fraction of a second late, or early, giving the music that famous Dilla nod. Questlove has mastered this style, and so has Chris Dave, the drummer on this project. The chops of bassist Derrick Hodge and multi instrumentalist Terrace Martin (known for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s last two albums) are also on point, and a huge cast of vocalists—perhaps too many—join in the fun throughout. (Herbie Hancock, Yasiin Bey, Denzel Curry, Mick Jenkins, Rapsody, SIR and Bilal make the guest list).
Billed as a “mixtape,” Fuck Yo Feelings isn’t without its downside. The nearly 5-minute intro is atrocious and, frankly, embarrassing. It’s an automatic skip every time and an ominous sign that this project will be sprawling and unedited, which (at 71 minutes) it definitely is. If you’re looking for an album with a tight musical structure, this isn’t it, but if you’re cool with a meandering musical journey you’ll appreciate it more.
My enjoyment of Fuck Yo Feelings definitely outweighed the negatives, and the loose narrative theme of the marginalization of the feelings of black Americans is noteworthy and important. Glasper’s influence on modern music is undeniable, and whenever he’s involved with a project, I’ll be listening.
Score: ✊✊✊.5 / 5