By Daniel Paiz
Afrofuturism is an integral part of this project and samples music from another time and space. The messaging throughout these nine tracks reflects lessons from both the future and the past. What a group needs for the longevity of their project is a balance between timeless and timely music; The Grand Alliance accomplishes this.
As this album is different from your average album drop, let’s reflect on the music in a manner different compared to other Cypher Sessions reviews. Each track arouses a different feeling and reaction, so it’s time to glide along with the tunes over the course of this album.
Track by track reaction
Glitch is a very trippy opening, futuristic in nature but video game feels at the same time. Perhaps this album is about playing through a storyline while also being a glitch in a larger system. Could be a glitch in a still to be named system, or just society in general. A strong start so far. The rhymes and singing are both a vibe; the more you listen, the more you want to hit repeat.
Swim continues with the vibe, taking things the jazzy funk route. Perhaps at this juncture we are swimming through the glitches and living one’s best life? Or, things have progressed to later in the day and it’s a night of good tunes and positive energy. “Dive into my ocean and drown inside my love” might also give another kind of vibes to the listener as well in the end.
Chakra Khan has a futuristic vibe, an OutKastian vibe if you will as the intro unfolds. Positive energy meets funk in this track, demanding (with consent of course) everyone head to the dance floor.
Eclipse cools out a bit from the previous two upbeat tracks, giving the listener a chance to sit in the moment, as sounds wash over them. “Cycles full of changes bring me outta the dark, all these different phases, the very beat of my heart” sticks out to this listener, causing one to repeat this section a few different times.
Grand Rising has a declaration of the ancient past meeting the futuristic time to come. This track gives us some more insight about the project in terms of fusing past and future ideas. The listener is given this open interpretation to see what they take away from the declaration and also the project so far. The tunes set up the declaration nicely as the stage is set for more.
Boogie Man brings us fully back to the up-tempo funk and R&B sounds introduced in the first few tracks. The sound hadn’t departed since the beginning, other than the tempo. The messaging remains consistent. There’s some rhymes in here that have a Big Bank Hank from Sugar Hill Gang kind of feel. The music is super replayable on this track and kind of invites this listener to revisit the previous tracks to review how the sounds of the project flow, which is something not every album has.
Space Submarine starts out with an infectious beat, and has this listener rhetorically wondering why Kayla Marque isn’t rapping on more of these tracks? Disco soul seems like it could be an alternate title to this track. Wait a minute, this track is like “The New People” track on Atmosphere’s most recent project: too short but that’s likely done intentionally. This one also had multiple replays before moving onto the next track.
United Funk calls the listener to action in multiple ways; on the dancefloor, but also in their purpose. This track feels like it might be the one that would grab the largest audience on the project, but not because the other tracks aren’t jams themselves. This one has a grander message than the others do. It’s still very much up to the listener what their own call to action is, but the call is so relaxed it’s more of a suggestion as the track comes to a close.
Stranger Thangs brings us full circle to feeling like this intergalactic journey is coming to a close, or perhaps, on to another mission. This one feels similar to “United Funk” in its messaging. Perhaps this listener just took awhile to get the layered messaging, but these last tracks feel more direct in their lyrics. The Grand Alliance is fully formed on the album’s closing track, doing what good closings do: having the listener ask what’s next.
Final Verdict on The Grand Alliance
This album is a fantastic debut project, and has this listener pondering what’s next from the group. How replayable an album is helps the listener decide what their favorite part is. One issue that arises is a good one for The Grand Alliance to take away: why isn’t this album longer? The journey feels like it’s coming to an end just as the story feels like it’s fully developed and ready for launch. Perhaps that’s the point of this project; it’s a tale of world building who The Grand Alliance is and what they’re planning to do next on their funky intergalactic missions to still come.
Perhaps this album is a bit of a nodal opposition for this American experiment so many people are trying to survive. Black people, Brown people and those who are othered have been in a state of survival for so long. This art serves as a reminder that space, whether on this planet or beyond, is for all.
These three artists advise listeners to figure out their path and start learning the necessary lessons to grow as a person. When the future and the past collide, there is a sense of both conflict and peace. Learning from the past for future growth is key and these nine tracks are a starting point. The layers of movement listeners encounter are reflective, yet danceable. Don’t miss what the boogie is telling you.