Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

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This is part of what makes Hip Hop what it's always been: an amalgam of different genres crafted in a way that either embodies the underrepresented or bucks against the norm. And by that definition, FlyLo's genre-melding third album Cosmogramma is as Hip

DXnext alum Flying Lotus has made rounds in Hip Hop circles with beats for Finale and Oddisee, but anyone familiar with his career—his 1983 and Los Angeles LPs, his bumper music on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and other collaborations—know that rap is only the tip of his musical iceberg. His music has elements from Electronic, Techno, and Rock, but with a Hip Hop-friendly bounce to it. But then again, that’s part of what makes Hip Hop what it’s always been: an amalgam of different genres crafted in a way that either embodies the underrepresented or bucks against the norm. And by that definition, FlyLo’s genre-melding third album Cosmogramma is as Hip Hop as it gets.

FlyLo’s great aunt is Jazz great Alice Coltrane (wife of fellow legend John Coltrane), and Cosmogramma shows the familial ear for music more than any of his other projects. This album progresses from beginning to end like a late '60s Jazz composition: it speeds and slows momentum with several movements of two-to-four-song suites, but it never stops until it’s over. And considering the smorgasbord of individual sounds that he uses to achieve this, it says a lot that he’s able to cover so much ground without losing track of the disc’s pacing. The first few tracks—“Clock Catcher,” “Pickled!” and “Nose Art”— use videogame sounds to set the tone, but utilize dance synths to firmly establish a groove. “Intro//A Cosmic Drama,” “Zodiac Shit” and “Computer Face//Pure Being” slow things down with a subdued electronic feel that utilizes live strings, and follows that with a bit more upbeat electronic. The album then moves into a stage of downtempo Jazz, where the subdued horns, keys and steady percussion of “German Haircut,” “Recoiled” and “Table Tennis” are only mildly tempered by FlyLo’s spacey additions. Speaking about individual songs here is almost an injustice, only because Cosmogramma is such a sum of its parts. The album plays like a Ridley Scott film: you may have a couple favorite scenes, but it works best as a complete product.

While its pacing and versatility are the key highlights, another noteworthy part of Cosmogramma is how un-notable its cameos are. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, bassist for legendary rock group Suicidal Tendencies, make contributions on “…And The World Laughs With You” and “Mmmhmm,” respectively. But what they offer are just that: contributions. FlyLo doesn’t just bring in these two legends for the fanfare and buzz; instead, he keeps his cool like he does throughout the rest of the album, and uses them to help him achieve his vision instead of fawning over them. “…And The World” opens with the videogame sounds and electronic synths that FlyLo perfects throughout Cosmogramma, and switches into an airy soundbed that accentuates Yorke’s soft vocals. Meanwhile, “Mmmhmm” keeps the jazzy feel of the song before it, “Arkestry,” with mellow keys and soft clanking percussion. Thom Yorke and Thundercat are all-star players, no doubt—but FlyLo is the championship coach, and they trust him.

The musical legends that guest star here wouldn’t trust Flying Lotus if he didn’t trust himself—and trust is what makes this album work. Cosmogramma stays unpredictable without going too far off course, and uses unconventional sounds to deliver digestible results. This is what Hip Hop is all about—so despite his choice of sounds, this is what FlyLo is.



  • bushwick

    i aint even heard the shit and ill give it 4 just out of respect to the dude. afro butterfly is also dope, dela (the producer not soul) is sick(robert glasper mixtape), and people sleeping on damu da fudgemunk though i aint even heard his recent shit.

  • H2

    LOVE this album. Best album of 2010...and beyond...

  • 212diamondcity

    I like the album WOW, Look at this black diamond chain for under $1600, you cant find that ANYWHERE else !!!! Fine men's and woman's diamond jewelry at affordable prices

  • LOOK, MA!

    1. If u aren't familiar with the "new" LA sound (which Lotus largely invented) then you might not feel this album, which breaks even those conventions. Try a little herb before listening - or get your foreplay on with some Yesterday's New Quintet and anyone Madlib name-checks on "Jazz Cats Pt. 1" 2. U can't force Flying Lotus into the rigid producer-MC relationship, but he will go there whenever he damned well pleases, to the benefit of whatever MC he chooses to work with. That's called artistic freedom, and it's also the foundation relationship of Hip-hop. 3. Option for crypto-haters and rap conservatives: accappella of preferred MC + preferred FLYLO beat = underground release. Please self, get fame. Thank me later. 4. Lotus is a BLACK artist stepping up to his bona fide musical and cultural legacy, operating independent from the ghetto-pop mentality, rap-centric philosophy, and the entertainment industry in general - usually that's a freedom reserved for white producers... u know, like DJ Shadow. 5. Yes, the music *business* - by this I mean the selection, production, and marketing of artists - is about race. Always has been in the US, all the way back to Lomax and Leadbelly, and "soundclashes" between plantations in the south. It's not an excuse, it's a fact... like gravity. 6. At the same time, whoever you are, the music becomes "yours" when you play it (what a gift!), and that makes you responsible for understanding the circumstances that brought it to you. 7. South Central LA's Ras-G (oh, raasssss!) is calculus to Flying Lotus' algebra.

  • Potato w/ Jive

    Your wish might just come true. Rumor has it Blu and FlyLo are doing collaborations. The most recent is Blu spittin over "GNG BNG" and its crazy. Look it up!

  • buckeyewu

    Another excellent CD by Lotus. I wish someone would start spitting over his music. Get some good MC's and this dude could take Hip Hop to another level.

  • ShystyOne

    Dilla - Chanes - Flying Lotus - are the TRUTH!

  • wussupworld

    Love it this is my liad back vibing shit. ZODIAC SHIT and GERMAN HAIRCUT are crazy.

  • icu ucme

    Yeah, I'm blissfully ignorant to this dude, and completely content with it.

    • some other cat

      if you're just catching on to the lotus, i'd recommend his other work. i liked this album, but not as much as his past work. this one seems much more experimental and choppy as opposed to his usual blissed out knodders. solid, yes. better than 9/10 other producers, yes. but not his shining moment in the sun. imho, ymmv.

  • lyrisize

    Here's an artist that you can easily point out while only listening to 3-5 seconds of one of his tracks, and yell out... "Aww yea, that's my dude Flying Lotus!" As an emcee, i've found myself listening to producers more than anything from Madlib's contants releases of instrumentals, Dilla, Oddisee, Fat Jon, Nujabes (r.i.p.), Afta-1, Floyd da Locmif (hopefully i'm not just name dropping), but Flying lotus has been the producer I feel is most unique, individual and highly-anticipated. Los Angeles, July Heat, 1983 and a few of his other mixes remain in constant rotation still to this day, and i'm happy to say Cosmogramma will have equal shelf life as his previous releases, if not more. A beautiful thing about him, as he makes an album an album. It's hard to cherry pick and dissect each song. But from 4)Intro: A Cosmic Drama and 5) Zodiac Shit, that original Flying Lotus - Los Angeles/July Heat/1983 starts emerging with some added umph to it. My favorite track on this album would have to be Galaxy in Janaki. The music does the talking. Thanks FlyLo for another banger!

  • Ali Khan

    Best record of the year so far no doubt. The whole album is a piece of art that needs to be played from start to finish to be appreciated. "Do The Astral Plane" is the best track though.


    aye flying lotus is teh shit

  • Hrmm

    I can't drink the Tang on this guy quite yet. Dug his shit with Finale a lot though. He stood as tall as Milk or Dilla on that there.

  • FLX

    This is some otherworly next level shit. I still likes LA a bit more but its great music still. Nose Art is zee shit period in your car stereo!