Black Radio III

Robert Glasper

Black Radio III

“I had a responsibility to give people what they were asking for, especially during the pandemic,” Robert Glasper tells Apple Music. “They wanted another Black Radio, so I had to deliver.” The pianist, composer, songwriter, and producer has spent the past decade pushing the boundaries of what constitutes jazz music, combining its acoustic instrumentation with hip-hop swagger, R&B melodies, and an ear attuned to improvisation. Ten years after the first Black Radio album, he returns to the genre-hopping, collaborative format, producing 13 tracks that seamlessly transition from the power of Amir Sulaiman’s poetry on opener “In Tune” to an elegantly downbeat version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to the funk of “Why We Speak” with Q-Tip and Esperanza Spalding. Here, Glasper talks through all the collaborations, track by track. “In Tune” (feat. Amir Sulaiman) “I was scoring a Dave Chappelle documentary, and in the film, Amir performs a poem that floored me. I’ve never had a poem reach me that way. I was in tears. I immediately asked Dave to connect us, and we had a short conversation about what I was looking for. Two days later, he came back with this incredible poem that opens the record. A lot has happened in the 10 years since the first Black Radio, and a whole lot has happened for Black people in America in the last two years. I felt like I had to address the elephant in the room with this track and with ‘Black Superhero.’” “Black Superhero” (feat. Killer Mike, BJ The Chicago Kid & Big K.R.I.T.) “BJ is my bro, but this is the first time we’ve done something together on wax. He came to the studio, and I was just playing around and testing the keyboard and he said, ‘That sounds like some superhero shit,’ so I kept playing and the concept started from there. After that, I wanted to pick rappers that teach us. I wanted them to say something that spoke to this moment. I knew K.R.I.T. and Killer Mike would do it justice.” “Shine” (feat. Robert Glasper, D Smoke & Tiffany Gouche) “‘Shine’ came out of a jam session. I was playing drums and my drummer was playing keys and we came up with this riff that I then looped. I refined it on keys and added bass and then sent it to D Smoke to see what he thought. He sent me back a draft the next day. The song is all about self-love and knowing that you’re enough. That’s something I feel like a lot of hip-hop songs don’t talk about, and especially during the pandemic, people needed to hear that.” “Why We Speak” (feat. Q-Tip & Esperanza Spalding) “A lot of my music starts off with jam sessions. I have my guys come over and we throw down some vibes and see what sticks. We came up with this joint and, immediately, I thought of Esperanza. I sent it to her and a few days later, she sent it back, and I thought something was wrong with the mic. She never told me she was writing it in French! I thought it was so dope, though, and I realized it sounded like something that would fit Q-Tip too. I used to play in his band, but I’ve never had him rock on an album, so it was perfect.” “Over” (feat. Yebba) “Yebba was part of the Fuck Yo Feelings sessions. She’s become like a little sister to me since, and I knew I had to have her on the record. While we were at Electric Lady Studios, listening to her latest album, we jammed and came up with this pattern and the skeleton of the song. That was in early 2021, and a few months later, we got back to LA and finished up here at my studio. Her voice is so beautiful, and I’m so happy we got to make this one together.” “Better Than I Imagined” (feat. H.E.R. + Meshell Ndegeocello) “I scored a film called The Photograph, which came out in February 2020. H.E.R. sang the ending song for the movie, and at the premiere, she told me she was so inspired by my score that she wanted to write something together. We literally went from the movie theater to the studio and wrote ‘Better Than I Imagined.’ It wasn’t planned for any project, but it did so well when I put it out, it planted the seed for the rest of Black Radio III.” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (feat. Lalah Hathaway & Common) “I have this thing with Lalah. On the first Black Radio, she did a cover of ‘Cherish the Day’ and killed it. The next time, I was like, ‘Let’s do Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America.”’ She recorded it in one take, and it won a Grammy. So why not keep it going? I’ve always loved ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’—I don’t think I would trust a person who doesn’t like that song—but I don’t know anyone who has made a version of it. I redid it in my own vibe, and Common loved it so much, he invited himself on it too!” “Everybody Love” (feat. Musiq Soulchild & Posdnous) “My DJ, Jahi Sundance, and I wanted to make a house EP together, and this was the first song we wrote for it. I sent it to Musiq Soulchild, who I have known for a long time, and he came up with his joint in three days. I’ve never done a house song and neither has he, so it was new for both of us. It has a party vibe, and when it comes to party rappers, I always think of De La Soul and Posdnuos. I knew he would kill it, and he delivered.” “It Don’t Matter” (feat. Gregory Porter & Ledisi) “I have wanted to produce an R&B album with Gregory for a while now, and when his tour with Ledisi got canceled, I called them both up. I was luckily able to get them in the studio because the COVID restrictions had eased at that point, and they wrote it to fit their voices. They’re both so powerful and definitely have their own sound, so this felt like a match made in heaven.” “Heaven’s Here” (feat. Ant Clemons) “I went to Snoop Dogg’s birthday party and on my way out, Ant Clemons stopped me and introduced himself. Terrace Martin told me that he’s high-level and that we should work together. Fast-forward to the next week and we started writing songs. We wrote four or five tracks since he was working with Justin Timberlake on his new album and Usher too. This was one we were going to give to Usher, but it didn’t work out with the timing. I love it so much, I had to put it on Black Radio.” “Out of My Hands” (feat. Jennifer Hudson) “Jennifer came to one of my shows with my homegirl Kelly Rowland, who I know from Houston. They both sat in with me onstage, and I knew I had to get Jennifer on something. When I wrote this song, I heard her voice on it. It took us a little while to get together, but she performed it perfectly.” “Forever” (feat. PJ Morton & India.Arie) “PJ worked with me on Black Radio 2 back in 2013, and he wrote the song ‘Worries,’ which Dwele sang. I love matching people up who’ve never recorded together, since it makes the song become more special. I knew PJ and India would sound perfect together, and we luckily managed to make this more of a back-and-forth process to make it feel like a duet where we were in the studio at the same time.” “Bright Lights” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)” “I’ve jammed with Ty before. He is a legend who changed the game up, and I wanted to do something with a modern, pop-R&B vibe because that’s where Ty thrives. It’s different from any of the other Black Radio tracks that I’ve made, and so I wanted to end the album with this one because it has such a unique feel.”

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