Mike LaddNostalgiator
  • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2008

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It’s a shame that Def Jux and Mike Ladd didn’t get together before. One of the biggest labels in indie hip-hop decided to release a 4 year-old album several weeks ago. Nostalgiator, originally released in 2004 under the German label !K7 Records, caught itself in a rare category in the days of downloads and the internet: an album that was rarely heard outside of Europe. It couldn’t have come soon enough since Nostalgiator finds Ladd at his most straightforward in terms of hip-hop and electronic music...though the avant-garde jazz side of him isn’t too far behind.

The live instrumentation marching-band funk of “Trouble Shot” hints at where Big Boi and Andre 3000 might have gotten the idea for Morris Brown from. “Housewives at Play” brings out some more of that funk with a spacey twist a la Prince or Parliament-Funkadelic. And the urgent-jumpy bass, Armageddon trumpets, and chaotic drumming that make up the freak-out jam “Wild Out Day” are an exercise in bombast that somehow begs repeated listening.

Then there is “How Electricity Works”; a track that finds Ladd one upping “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” with its spoken word advice and free associative lyrics. “Black Orientalist,” “Off To Mars?” and the opening track “Dire Straits Plays Nuremberg” do not disappoint those Ladd fans who prefer the political side of him (particularly the political side who’s disgusted with the American government).

While not as satisfying and provocative as his other work Nostalgiator finds Ladd’s genre-smashing musical nature on exhibit for all who want to hear. - Stephon Johnson
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