The woman who beat the Biebs.

Esperanza Spalding, “Black Gold”

Radio Music Society, 2012

At the 53rd Grammy Awards, Esperanza Spalding became the most hated woman amongst 12 year olds on the planet, beating Justin Beiber to win Best New Artist. If this wasn’t bad enough for the young people, she was also a bass player! And a JAZZ artist! And the youngest professor at Berklee College of Music! How dare she beat the Biebs??

With Black Gold,her first single off her fourth album, she enlisted singer Algebra Blessett to help groove through a scrumptious fusion of soul/funk and jazz (and a little blues). It’s a cool, laidback track of complete smoothness, with lyrics brimming with positive African pride. No beat is out of time, nothing is overdone, everything is just enough.

The usual RnB suspects are here as well (a capella hand clapping chorus, hicuppy drums) and Blessett’s bluesy vocals add a nice dynamic. It’s a joy to listen to.


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