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Lets face it, Sa-Ra just wasn’t cut out to be on a major label. At least any major label looking to insert them into their line of “hip-hop” artists. After a short-stint G.O.O.D. Music, despite the fact that these guys look great standing next to Kanye, they never were able to actually get their dreams out, so to speak. And while Sa-Ra demands from respect from such legendary producers like Dr. Dre and J. Dilla, the major label machine could never really figure out how to market them. With Nuclear Evolution, the group severs past ties with “the world’s best dressed label” , finding a comfortable spot on Ubiquity – a label known for it’s diverse roster of musical talent.

The Hollywood Recordings was an album made up of many of the group‘s past hip-hop collaborations, but with Nuclear Evolution, the group definitely takes on a new form, distancing themselves from their loose-knit hip-hop roots. The only real collaboration here in that genre is Erykah Badu on “Dirty Beauty”– and even classifying her as “hip-hop” is a stretch. Instead, the group focuses more on standing on it’s own feet, with a soulful, spacey album that is definitively Sa-Ra.

Like time-displaced relics of the 1970’s, Sa-Ra’s brand of future-flavor channels that of Bootsy Collins and George Clinton’s P-Funk era, with a more modern, updated sound. They’ve gone beyond this style with the new album, dipping into several different genres, essentially boiled down to whatever’s funky. For instance, the album opener, “Spacefruit” is a French bossa nova jam, while the album’s closing track “Cosmic Ball” is a full on jazz track (with a little help from The Gary Quartet). The rest of the LP is pretty much everything else in between.

Songs like the “I Swear” combine classic boom-bap drums with Noni Lamar’s breezy, airy vocals, while “He Say, She Say” is a like a live version of something Dilla might have included on “Donuts”. Redundant street tales about drug-deals gone bad  (“Traffika”) or prostitution (“Bitch Baby”) are presented in a new light, as Sa-Ra’s unique sound allows them to transcend hip-hop’s usual beats and lyrics formula.

Nuclear Evolution’s only real fault is that it is a heavy plate to digest. Don’t expect to be fully immersed in the music upon first listen (or worse yet, by needle dropping each song). Their music is so full of body that only upon repeated listens will you be able to soak in its brilliance. Early on, since the album’s lyrics are delivered in such a mellow fashion, it will seemingly just play as background music, but slowly it evolves into a truly nuclear experience.  – DJ Pizzo

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