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Album Review

N.A.S.A., 'The Spirit of Apollo'

March 9, 2009
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Hip-Hop
N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo
Anti-
ESSENTIAL "Money"

So here's the CliffsNotes: Two dudes make a hip-hop mixtape with 40 of their best friends. And because one of the dudes is Sam Spiegel, who happens to be Spike Jonze's brother, and the other is a Brazilian DJ named Zé Gonzales, everyone comes running. And not just everyone in the C-list charity compilation kind of way, but capital-E Everyone: Chuck D, Tom Waits, Kanye West. The project is called North American/South American, or N.A.S.A. (because Girl Talk was taken, I guess), and it's not so bad to listen to, if you're in the right mood. The best of this mixed bag: "N.A.S.A. Music," a jittery rant by Method Man, and "Money," starring David Byrne. The rest is good enough for spin class. On the music blogs, "Apollo" has been trashed for being too disjointed, but whatever - we live at a time when traditional rules of album cohesion have ceased to apply. The real problem is that Gonzales and Spiegel have nothing to say about the artists they're showcasing. Girl Talk succeeded by deconstructing pop hits; we heard every prerecorded sample in a new way. N.A.S.A., on the other hand, just slaps everything up there, and expects it to stick. It doesn't. (Out now)

N.A.S.A. plays at Harpers Ferry on Wednesday.

MATTHEW SHAER

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