N.A.S.A. Shifts emphasis from space to something important: Hip-Hop

North America South America has arrived to save the world. Pants are optional.

The moon is made of discoball. PHOTO COURTESY ANTI-RECORDS.

Ashley Goetz

The moon is made of discoball. PHOTO COURTESY ANTI-RECORDS.

N.A.S.A. ALBUM: âÄúThe Spirit of ApolloâÄù LABEL: Anti-Records What do David Byrne, M.I.A., KRS-One, RZA, Tom Waits, Chuck D, Seu Jorge, Gift Of Gab and George Clinton all have in common? They make up just a small portion of the artists featured on the new God-sent collaborative album constructed to save humanity: N.A.S.A.âÄôs âÄúThe Spirit of Apollo.âÄù N.A.S.A. âÄî an acronym for âÄúNorth America South AmericaâÄù âÄî is the kind of borderline inconceivable communal effort that could only exist in the tech-savvy, digitally euphoric era of the late decade. Birthed in the minds of Brazilian DJ Ze Gonzales (AKA DJ Zegon) and L.A. Producer/musician DJ Sam Spiegel (AKA Squeak E. Clean) , the disc is charged with an unprecedented number of featured artists from across the global map of rock, pop and hip-hop. The result is a bass-heavy wet dream at around 120 RPMs. With a guest list endowed with such potency and unencumbered talent, âÄúThe Spirit of ApolloâÄù immediately faces the problem of having to live up to the hype. Fortunately, it succeeds in skyrocketing above and beyond this challenge right from the start due to its depth of content both lyrically and musically, as well as a common theme of unity throughout the album. N.A.S.A.âÄôs debut album is about origins, both individual and humanity as a whole. In the leadoff track âÄúPeople Tree,âÄù David ByrneâÄôs chorus demands, âÄúDid we climb out of the sea? Where did we come from you and me?âÄù A launch pad is then used by MCâÄôs Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Chali 2na (Jurassic 5) to hold a debate about the meaning of life with Chali playing the part of God and Gift of Gab the questioner. From there, the album only branches out to become more and more immense and all-consuming in the scope of its theme. âÄúWay Down,âÄù which features Barbie Hatch and John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, culminates in a spine-tinglingly effective verse laid down by the lyrically innovative RZA of the Wu-Tang clan. âÄúThe Spirit of ApolloâÄù succeeds as a hip-hop record that is supremely eclectic in concept and hugely danceable. Every song on âÄúThe Spirit of ApolloâÄù has an individual sound and appeal. George ClintonâÄôs chorus rings out in âÄúThereâÄôs a PartyâÄù with what is perhaps the main theme and message of the album, âÄúThereâÄôs a party and weâÄôre all invited/ not just some of us, but each and every one.âÄù The album itself is a message, a call to arms, saying that through the love of music we can unite across the invisible frontiers of country lines. This idea is alluded to through the collectiveâÄôs name (North America South America) but is also summed up with the Nixon presidential speech which is sampled in the âÄúNASA Anthem ,âÄù the albumâÄôs final track. âÄúIn some way, when those two Americans stepped on the moon, the people of this world were brought closer together.âÄù âÄúThe Spirit of ApolloâÄù is a perfect debut album. From start to finish, it is the most danceable and socially progressive record of 2009 thus far.