Review Summary: An excellent neo-soul collaboration with Madlib
Sans-hyperbole, Georgia Anne Muldrow is one of the most talented hip-hop artists today - voice, production, lyricism, entrepreneurship, she is the complete package. And yet, the closest she's come to a memorable performance is 2009's Umsindo
, a record that far overstayed its welcome with too many interludes and a questionable amount of filler. Seeds
is Muldrow's 6th try since then, begging for an answer as to how such a talent can fill 5 lesser releases within a two year span - seemingly without quality control of any sort. This scenario, however, finds Muldrow relinquishing her typical creative control over production duties to willing fellow Californian/ contemporary hip-hop legend Madlib. The Beat Konducta already has proven chops in the neo-soul circuit (most notably on Erykah Badu's New Amerykah
releases), and it's interesting to hear what he can do over the course of an entire record with an almost equally talented vocalist.
While not as wizard-scientifical as his past productions, Seeds
runs the course with classic funk-inspired soul, a progressive hip-hop twist, and an immutable spotlight on the vocals. Apparent immediately on the self-titled opening track, this is a good thing. Muldrow's voice plays well off the production with her versatile range and seamless incorporation of multiple different vocal styles; R&B, classical, pop, African chant influences, it's all here and used well. Standout "Kali Yuga" overlays an ultra-smooth hook with an equally so bass-line and subdued drumming, but it's not until the "Husfriend" intro and otherwise where her true vocal capabilities take center stage. Creative use of multi-track recording emphasizes a very modern composition with heavy roots in free jazz.
Interestingly enough, Muldrow's production is truly missed - while similar to the Beat Konducta, it is a bit less Fantastic Planet
and seems much more familiar - main case in point being later album track "The Few". A seriously boring Madlib beat rides behind what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful multi-tracked choruses ever recorded - one can only imagine what Muldrow herself could have done with this track. But this is just a minor complaint compared to the main detractor of Seeds
; her wordy, metaphysical musings take center stage when they likely shouldn't. Although she is a great poet and lyricist, a little restraint would help in these situations. Seeds
is still a great record nonetheless, and shows Muldrow hasn't yet lost focus since Umsindo
. Hopefully her magnum opus is forthcoming.