Galactic is a sextet that has delivered over a decade of futuristic Nawlin's funk. Its sixth album From the Corner to the Block conceives of a universal street corner and features contributions from rappers and vocalists who set up shop on blocks around the country.
Galactic lets its hefty guest list pull this record out of obscurity. Boasting contributions from Mr. Lif, Charli 2na, Z-trip, Boots Riley and most of the Quannum label, Galactic know how to play to the strengths of its guests. The band aids Lyrics Born in his quest for a Cee-lo level rock star status with the rousing opener “I Got It (What You Need).” Mr. Lif has fallen off my radar in the past year or so, but on “… And I'm Out” Lif's usual stoned-out delivery is replaced with an energetic flow I have not heard since he enthusiastically described killing his evil boss.
Most importantly Galactic reached out to Lateef the Truth Speaker, other half of Latryx. Lyrics Born has been on a solo rampage, and until “No Way”, Lateef had fallen relatively silent. Galactic provide Lateef with a Mayfield funk number with soft spoken crooning and poignant rapping, making the song's versatility an instantaneous standout performance.
If this record suffers at all, it comes from the sad idea that New Orleans needs cultural strengthening right now, or a sense of local pride. Galactic has decidedly expanded its perspective at a time it might have been more important to look within. Case in point is “Seconds and Dryades” featuring Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. The Chief tells a story of being an Indian at a Mardi Gras Party in his southern scat drawl. It is a percussion laden track that evokes the steel drums jangle that torments my head during Girls Gone Wild commercials, but mixed with the chief's voice and tribal drum sounds it transcends the whitewashed vacation of Mardi Gras and evokes something more visceral and true to the southern festival's roots.
The guest spots express a universal corner loiter, but the strongest moments on From the Corner to the Block are when Galactic look to local inspiration. Galactic may bring out the best in the West Coast's already highly creative minds, but when it can revert Juvenile back to his Magnolia roots, well then a band is truly close to something special.