N.A.S.A. - The Spirit of Apollo
Record Label: Anti
Release Date: February 17, 2009
N.A.S.A., short for North America South America, is a DJ collective featuring Sam Spiegel, better known as DJ Squeak E. Clean from New York, and Ze Gonzalez, a Brazilian pro skateboarder who goes by DJ Zegon. The two have been hard at work for the past four years creating what was to be an extremely ambitious collaborative effort entitled The Spirit of Apollo, which will incorporate the likes of hip-hop and pop’s finest, underground and mainstream alike.
According to their label’s web site, The Spirit of Apollo was created with “the righteous goal people together through music and art.” With Zegon’s roots in Brazilian funk and the fact that Spiegel is the brother of Academy-award winning director Spike Jonze, there was an exorbitant amount of creativity flowing into this project from the get-go.
Looking through the tracklisting, there is a highly diverse list of guests on this album. On one hand you have “Spacious Thoughts,” which has Tom Waits and Kool Keith, and on the other you have “The Mayor,” with The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah and Scarface.
Other unexpected, yet successful collaborations were “Gifted,” which features Kanye West displaying his usual self-absorbed and whimsical bravado, and hipster-favorites Lykke Li and Santogold. “Way Down,” which features RZA and an alluring hook by Barbie Hatch and guitar stylings of John Frusciante is another gem, along with "N.A.S.A. Music,” a track Method Man really lays down on.
For as many great tracks as there are on The Spirit of Apollo, there seems to be an equal amount of bad ones. Spank Rock, M.I.A. and Santogold’s collaboration on “Whachadoin?” is cringe-worthy, and aside from KRS-One’s verse on “Hip-Hop,” the track is lifeless. “Money,” the first single, is one of the dullest cuts on the entire album, which sees David Byrne of Talking Heads fame lending his now monotonous vocals to.
All things considered, a compilation featuring everyone from members of the Wu-Tang Clan to Tom Waits to Kanye West to KRS-One should be nothing short of stellar. However, the inconsistencies and lulls on highly outweigh the shining moments, causing this release to generally fall flat. It’s probably better if you download this one.