Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7: G Love, "Lemonade"

Artist: G Love
Album: Lemonade
Year: 2006
Label: Bushfire

White men may not be able to jump, but for nearly twenty years, Philly native G Love has been proving over and over that they certainly can bring the funkiest of raps. Whether working with his band, Special Sauce, or going solo, his blues-based, funky hip-hop records are always original and filled with smiles and good vibes. His 2006 solo release, Lemonade, his first on independent label Bushfire Records, is one of his finest albums ever and can be seen as a return back to his original form.

Though Special Sauce drummer "Houseman" and bass player "Jimmy Jazz" are both on a majority of the album, Lemonade, is labeled as a G Love solo release. One of the things that makes this more of a solo effort is the number of guests that sit in on various tracks. Many times, when an artist fills the record with guest musicians, it makes the album disjointed or less about the main artist; but on Lemonade, the guests are incorporated seamlessly and it never ceases to be a G Love album through and through. Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Tristian Prettyman (among others), all share vocal and guitar duties with G Love throughout the record, and it helps to keep the albums' sound varied. Overall, it is clear that G Love is far more relaxed on comfortable on Lemonade, and the songs benefit greatly from this mood.

Whether it is G Love singing quietly on "Hot Cookin'" or taking part in a hip hop onslaught on "Banger," each song on Lemonade has its own, funky identity. From blasting it in your car to listening on headphones while sitting on the beach, the mood on Lemonade is perfect for nearly any situation. The one thing that is always a given on any album G Love releases is that it will contain extremely funky and groovy songs. G Love has a talent for finding "the pocket" and creating solid, deep, head bobbing musical patterns. The guitar and harmonica of G Love create a great launching point for the rhythm section as well as the very prominent piano and keyboard to find their way into the groove. Each and every song on Lemonade will have you dancing along in no time, and keep it happening even after repeated listenings.

G Love has also always had a great gift for writing brilliant lyrics. Whether comical, inspiring, or heartfelt, all of his lyrics are genuine and filled with soul. One of his finest lyrical moments on Lemonade is on the songs' opening track when he sings the simple, yet superb line "...sometimes I only wanna hear the sound of the stars..." G Love and friend Jack Johnson also write one of the most beautiful and hopeful songs ever recorded in their duet, "Rainbow." However, G Love keeps his hip-hop based roots firmly intact as he brings rap legend Blackalicious (and a few other rappers) into the studio for one of Lemonade's most enjoyable songs, "Banger." This track shows just how great an emcee G Love is as well as serving as one of the hardest hitting (in a good way) songs that G Love has ever recorded.

Over the past two decades, G Love has made himself known as the King of blues-funk-hip hop fusion. Constantly pulling from his wide-ranging influences, his records are always refreshing as well as a damn good time. His live shows have just as much of a high energy, "good times" vibe as his records and you should definitely check him out the next time he is in your town. G Love's 2006 solo effort, Lemonade, is clearly the beginning of his "second wind" and is a record that anyone will love, regardless of musical preference.

Standout tracks: "Banger," "Beautiful," and "Rainbow."

1 comment:

CasCbus said...

Without a doubt one of my fav G-Love albums as well. I have not thought about it, but you hit the nail on the head that will the the guests on the album, it flows the whole time without a flinch! GLASS is a band that crosses over so many music landscapes!