Galactic - From the Corner to the Block (2007)

Galactic
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From its early muses in the house bands of James Brown and Stax Records, to its popular prophets in George Clinton and his progeny, funk has always been accepted as the musical drippings of many things. Rock, soul, blues, R&B, none have been sacrosanct, and all have contributed to the popularity of the funk. Now Galactic has mixed this pot with beats and traditions no one expected in From the Corner to the Block. Ironically, these New Orleans natives have created a gumbo that is never familiar, but tasty in every serving.

From its early muses in the house bands of James Brown and Stax Records, to its popular prophets in George Clinton and his progeny, funk has always been accepted as the musical drippings of many things. Rock, soul, blues, R&B, none have been sacrosanct, and all have contributed to the popularity of the funk. Now Galactic has mixed this pot with beats and traditions no one expected in From the Corner to the Block. Ironically, these New Orleans natives have created a gumbo that is never familiar, but tasty in every serving.

"What You Need" has a hard rock edge that first makes you wonder whether it was the marketers who first decided this music was funky. With patience, you notice that the cut straddles the same line that once gave groundbreakers Living Color such popular appeal. Despite its versatility, distinctive dosages of rock are aptly applied to each set. The musicianship carries through, like a well-traveled band, particularly on "Hustle Up" and "Sidewalk Stepper." 

One of the starkest realities of these recordings is the omnipresence of expressive rap. With a new generation of melodic influencers weaned on the nation's youngest indigenous music, the hip-hop envelopment of most of the cuts is not surprising. However that such consciousness can be melded so flawlessly with diverse beats is reason to be pleasantly surprised. In addition to the street wisdom of "...And I'm Out" with Mr. Lif, and "The Corner" with Gift of Gab, there is the griot flavor of "Second and Dryades" with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, whose originality seems a direct descendant of artistry a la Arrested Development.

More traditional funk with pre-requisite horn sections and synchronized rhythms are found in "Bounce Baby," "From the Corner to the Block," and my favorite tease, "Fanfare." While Juvenile & the Soul Rebels Brass Band could have tilted the scales in a different direction, Southern kinfolk are true to the ambitiousness of the music they create. Just when you think you've seen their total bag of tricks, they spring "Find My Home" on you. The CD is overstuffed with marvelous melodies cleverly captured among fresh beats and innovation.

Galactic longevity is validated with the appearance of Ladybug Mecca, formerly of Diggable Planets. Any scene-stealers knowledgeable enough to secure her participation are clairvoyant enough to handle the responsibility of treading new frontier. From the Corner to The Block is a must have that will likely be recognized as a groundbreaking step in 21st century funkdom.

By Arnold Stovell

 
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