Soul Science Lab’s Plan for Paradise—featuring New Orleans native Asante Amin—is likely the most eclectic hip-hop record out this year.
Somehow without sounding disjointed, the record boils down and congeals the OutKast duality of out-of-this-world future sounds and Southern rap; chopped and trap beats; political, spiritual and socially conscious lyrics and the actual musicianship of the Roots; tons of hip-hop similes and metaphors that reference such far-flung subjects as Mansa Musa and McLovin from Superbad; a couple tastes of brass and funk sounds from the Crescent City; obscure samples and a modern rap meets Jungle Brothers flow that also sports their acceptance of electronica elements. In short, it could be mistaken for a mash up of the Crystal Method’s “Keep Hope Alive” and Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” at a #BLM march.
Though Soul Science Lab are young and cool enough to use words in ways they aren’t supposed to be used, they are talented enough to make them sound right—their use of “infinite” on “We So Infinite” is this year’s “basic.”
The high water mark of the record, instead, has a higher purpose. “I Can’t Breathe” is a ferocious track that meets a soul singer’s pleas with the brutal answer of “Fuck Yo’ Breath.” Like a sidewalk full of broken bottles of all types, Plan for Paradise’s varied influences somehow make an intricate mosaic. Though it is a fascinating listen and with few standout tracks—“Built My City” is a great example of their boundless sound—there’s a lot of build but enough bang. Plan for Paradise is one hot hook away from launching Soul Science Lab and their message into the mainstream pop culture conversation.