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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Life + Arts

Ambitious album fails to deliver


N.A.S.A., short for North America South America, is a disc jocky collective featuring Sam Spiegel, better known as DJ Squeak E. Clean from New York, and Ze Gonzalez, a Brazilian pro skateboarder who goes by DJ Zegon.

The two have been hard at work for the past four years creating what was to be an extremely ambitious collaborative effort titled The Spirit of Apollo, which will incorporate the likes of hip-hop and pop’s finest, underground and mainstream alike.

According to their label’s Web site, The Spirit of Apollo was created with ‘the righteous goal of bringing people together through music and art.’

With Zegon’s roots in Brazilian funk and the fact that Spiegel is the brother of Academy-award nominated director Spike Jonze, there was an exorbitant amount of creativity flowing into this project from the get-go.

Looking through the track list, there is a highly diverse list of guests on this album. On one hand, you have ‘Spacious Thoughts,’ which has labelmate Tom Waits and Kool Keith, and on the other you have ‘The Mayor,’ with The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah and Scarface.

Other unexpected, yet successful, collaborations are in ‘Gifted,’ which features Kanye West, displaying his usual self-absorbed and whimsical bravado, and hipster favorites Lykke Li and Santogold.

‘Way Down,’ which features RZA and an alluring hook by Barbie Hatch and guitar stylings of John Frusciante, is another gem along with ‘N.A.S.A. Music,’ a track Method Man really lays down on.

For as many great tracks as there are on The Spirit of Apollo, there seems to be an equal amount of bad ones. Spank Rock, M.I.A. and Santogold’s collaboration on ‘Whachadoin?” is cringe-worthy, and aside from KRS-One’s verse on ‘Hip-Hop,’ the track is lifeless.

‘Money,’ the first single, is one of the dullest cuts on the entire album, which sees David Byrne of Talking Heads lending his monotonous vocals to.

All things considered, a compilation featuring the likes of members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Tom Waits, Kanye West and KRS-One should be nothing short of stellar. However, the inconsistencies and lulls highly outweigh the shining moments, causing this release to generally fall flat.

N.A.S.A.
The Spirit of Apollo
Anti-Records
Verdict: Ambition means little when the product can’t match it.


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