Ladi6's smooth and reflective hip-hop soul made her first solo album, Time Is Not Much from 2008, an excellent - if a little shy and coy - debut. On The Liberation Of ... she steps up in a bold, lively and often experimental yet fun way, which recalls the innovation of the last two Erykah Badu albums.
Right from the opening double-dutch hand-clapped start of Bang Bang, it's almost quickfire in its nature, with the 10 short and snappy tunes over pretty quickly. Yet they pack a rump-shaking punch as the tracks brim with a constant soulful hip-hop energy-from the head-bobbing beats and sprays of brass on Koln to Ladi's saucy nasal lilt that drives the songs along. Then there's the delightfully silky and bouncy Jazmine D.L., a tribute to her cousin who passed away last year; Like Water is a romantic sing-a-long that has a cute stomp to it; and 98 'Til Now is her staunch hip-hop blow-out.
But it's on tracks like Burn With Me, an experimental hip-hop jam later in the album, and Goodday, a deep groover that just gets meaner and meaner as it pulses and slopes along, where The Liberation Of ... starts living up to its title.
So while the first half of the album is fun, catchy and what she does well, the second stanza starts wigging out with more mind-altering squelches and wobbly synth sounds, making it more than just hip-hop soul and taking it into cosmic soul-meets-future funk territory. That's a good place to be.