The Sa-Ra experience is like staying in the penthouse suite of an intergalactic version of the Love Boat. The pillows supporting your back are bubbly and fuzzy. Lavishly coloured walls carry Barry White portraits. I’d sure wish the many crew members wouldn’t constantly harass me with their services though. I am chilling, listening to the ship announcements and soothing sound of the engine.
Captains Om’Mas Keith, Taz Arnold, and Shafiq Husayn have outgrown Stubing modesty. They have compared themselves to the new millennium equivalent of George Clinton’s Funkadelic movement. The members, hailing from both NY and Los Angeles, classify their fusion of funk/soul/R&B/hip-hop and meteorite powder as Afro Magnetic Electronic Spiritualism (A.M.E.S). In an interview with Thisisrealmusic.com, Om’Mas dubbed himself and the other Creative Partners as the ones able to musically “bridge the gap between your Mama and her kids.”
Bold statements, but the group has AMESsed sufficient experience to back them up. The three musicians have represented, produced, or engineered for names like Prince, Duran Duran, Ice-T, Common, Dr.Dre, Lord Finesse, Jurassic Five, N.E.R.D. and Jennifer Lopez. In that span of time they have also mastered a long list of live instruments, which they use nonchalantly to put together their intricate, splashing neo-soul .
The lyricists on “The Hollywood Recordings” appear overwhelmed by the bubblicious live beats they are instructed to rhyme over. Capone-N-Noreaga sound light years away from the building tops of New York when they rhyme over fuzzy strings and pompous synthesizers in the engine room on “Not On Our Level.”
“I am like God and the devil
Mixed in with one
Heaven and hell, the moon and the sun
A N.O.R.E, N.O.R.E, my bitches is out of orbit
I retribution the situation, make ’em all forfeit”
In the observatory Talib Kweli lectures the guests on hip-hop theory over Hubble thumps on “Feel the Bass.” Chef Pharoahe Monch’s in the ship’s galley, chopping up fish and making unsubtle references to his staff about how much “Fish Fillet” he ate in the past.
On the tracks not featuring Monch, J. Dilla, or Kurupt, the captains step in front of the microphone to do some interstellar crooning over the intercom. Their thin voices mildly strain to share steamy sex talk with their Sa-Ra Creative passengers. Vocals on songs like “Do Me Gurl” and “Sweet Sour You” are too fickle to constantly hold my attention, but do provide for the mellow atmosphere when lounging in my quarters.
“The Hollywood Recordings” is a collection of previous released material and a showcase of what is still to come. There is no doubt the Sa-Ra Creative Partners are gifted instrument magicians, who break boundaries where others have remained stagnant. And now, if you’ll excuse me, we have just arrived at Planet Acapulco, our final stop. Let’s see what the next Sa-Ra Cruise has in store for me next year.