Over the history of hip-hop, collectives have offered listeners a varied range of range and perspectives; collectives like Native Tongues, for example, have audiences a new-age, jazzy, optimistic brand of hip-hop that rivaled the gangster rap of the era. From a more contemporary perspective, Odd Future offered a pseudo-shock value riddled brand of youthful rebellion turned up to the degree which captivated audiences and has led to collective and individual success. A new emerging collective in Atlanta–that also has an artistic presence in Chicago, Kentucky, Bristol, London, Germany, Sweden, Philadelphia, and more–is putting their spin on the genre, with interesting results. Black Astronaut is comprised of [lead singer and poet] Charles Luck, Rapper/Singer Tino Red, Rappers Gyro, InZane, Sticky Bud, Vedo, and B Daz, as well as singers Muze, Jonathan BT, Zack David, and Addie. They’re bringing to the table a lyrically slanted brand of hip-hop fused with sonically elements borrowed from European EDM–amongst other things.
Their [collective] debut, Luck On Mars, is an amalgamation of soundsscapes all loosely stitched together under the conceptual guise of time and space. This concept is–although seemingly limiting– quite agile, and makes for some great music. “When You’re Down,” for example, is a guitar-driven record where Charles Luck recounts the passing of his father, and the unique perspective he realized that allowed him to cope with the loss and depression effectively. “Kaleidoscope,” takes an optimistic outlook on our world which is currently plagued with social ills, while “Live Within” challenges you to find that ‘thing’ within you worth saving–or rather–worth fighting for.
On the whole, as the result of very careful sequencing, the album creates an experience that traverses through different styles, while heavily focusing on rather deep lyrical content that seems almost to play out like an outside looking in of earth, society, the human race, etc. “Land Of The Lost,” is a commentary on today’s society, which seems more divided than ever; “The human race, but that’s simply not the case–because we don’t move an inch, we simply run in place.” Charles makes many allusions to ‘leaving’ and finding a ‘better place,’ which all lend themselves to the overall theme of space as an escape of sorts. Sonically, the project is anything but linear, taking turns like “Stardust” and “Life On Mars,” which are piano ballads, and “Is The Galaxy Pimping Me,” which puts us in mind of Atmosphere with its almost bouncy delivery. Special mention should be made of “The Show,” which has a fresh David Bowie sample.
The streaming project is accompanied by trippy video treatments that add to the overall ‘experience’ of the project — some of which have quasi-linear storylines, and others with ambient space imagery interspersed with glitches.
With an estimated 170+ songs in the stash, Black Astronaut appears to be a collective of artists that aren’t going to be dropping out anytime soon; it’ll be interesting to see where they take the game. Buckle in, countdown, and blast off–Luck On Mars is an interesting ride worth taking.