Are you in a big rush right now? Are you just stopping by The Ark of Music for a quick hit of something fresh. Cool. But I implore you to stop for a second. Clear some space in your day (and in your mind), because I’m about to introduce you to Black Astronaut, and what is arguably the most unique, original and heartfelt hip-hop I’ve ever run across.
Hip-hop was once a rich platform for storytelling and sharing one’s trials and triumphs through rhythm and song. But things have changed…dramatically. Now, the messages and the storytelling have dried-up and been replaced by a bizarre and heartless practice of empty-boasting, disrespectful cynicism, and generally dumbed-down content.
Thankfully, Black Astronaut has rejected hip-hop’s current popular form, and is paving the way for what has been called “conscious hip-hop”, which, as far as we’re concerned, should be what all hip-hop becomes one day.
The group, though based out of Atlanta, GA, is a collective of artists with a wide range of skills, who come from parts across the globe, including: Chicago, Philadelphia, Kentucky, Bristol, London, Germany, Sweden, and beyond. The group as it currently stands, consists of:
- Lead Songwriter: Charles Luck
- Rapper/Singer: Tino Red
- Rappers: Gyro, InZane, Vedo, Thir13een, and B Daz
- Singers: Muze, Jonathan BT, Cyr, Zack David, and Addie
- Former Members Include: Pastor C, Sticky Bud, and FlipLeaf
Their new album, Life on Mars, goes places no other hip-hop album has gone before. Bravely blending spoken word, classical melodies, 70’s rock instrumentation, and modern hip-hop rhythm and production, this wildly creative outfit has found a fusion of sound that is definitive and totally unique. Here’s what we dug most…
The project courageously opens with the spoken word piece, The Race, which tells the tale of one soul’s journey to, and upon, Earth…
“I was surrounded by sleepwalkers and thought I was the only one up
Because they kept both eyes open, but left the third one wide shut
They shook hands and smiled, and had me fooled for a day
But the look on their faces, gave them away
Their hearts had grown moss, this was the land of the lost
Where they fight over pennies, and win at all costs”
Land of the Lost lays down a simple, crisp beat with hard-hitting, “wake-up call” lyrics…
“It could all be so splendid, if we all would’ve just tended
To our own crops, it’s here the buck stops
I’ll say it clear before the beat drops
And leaves me stranded in silence
In the land of the lost, fallin’ down the rabbit hole of violence”
In wildly innovative fashion, the Black Astronaut crew sampled the likes of Pink Floyd in Lunar Lunatics, and David Bowie in The Show. If your too young to appreciate the dying art of sampling, just give these cuts a listen.
Kaleidoscope blends acoustic guitar chords with classic drum & clap, reminiscent to Bubba Sparxxx’s Deliverance, or Avicii’s Wake Me Up. This is our second favorite track on the album. And, in keeping with the rest of the project, it is lyrically strong once more…
“The spirit shines in any weather
with open eyes its even better
but we need to be together
because one hand must wash the other
on this grain of sand, we all are brothers…
…the world is like a Kaleidoscope
my eyes are shining, bright with hope”
Our Favorite Track:
Live Within. It’s just a beautiful piece of hip-hop…lyrically, musically, vocally, just magical. This is what the world needs right now, really…
“We create what we imagine
What we think we become
I think I’ll imagine
Us all being one
Everyone’s their own savior
That much is true
So find something worth saving
Inside of you”
Look, I’m fully aware that over-hyping something as a music critic is just as blasphemous a practice as it is for a musician to make commercialized candy-pop just for the money. But that’s not what’s going on here. Black Astronaut is legit. This collection of songs is thoughtful and heartfelt, not to mention the fact that the production is spot-on. Personally, I constantly lay in wait (and not patiently I might add) for a piece of music to touch me the way this album has. And when I find something like this, it’s like I’ve been given a tall, ice-cold glass of water after a long trek through some baron desert wasteland. While listening, I’m suddenly reminded of why I love hip-hop so much, and for that matter, why I love music. It leaves me refreshed and hopeful. Because, if this stuff is out there, then maybe, just maybe…there’s more.
It’s incredibly difficult to liken these guys to another act due to their uncommon versatility and wide range of sound styles. While listening to Life on Mars, I heard hints of Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, Avicii, and a touch of something I’ve heard no where else. Big props to everybody at Black Astronaut.
Below, you can listen to Black Astronaut’s album, Life On Mars, and connect with their online platforms. Please support Black Astronaut by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!