What the hip hop amalgamator Mike Ladd does on Father Divine is more of the good groove with myriad moments of even better. Released in 2005, the 12 tracks — with one hidden at track 21 — were recorded to capture the feel of a grainy cassette and send you back to the days when Ladd first heard Bad Brains rumbling through his head via a worn-out cassette. The poet/producer is swift and nimble with the lyrics riffing on pop-culture to personal vices. As with Ladd’s lyrical flow, his cadence can change gears from a soothing, careful stroll to vicious syncopation, his content touches the care-free party sectors in your psyche as well as the educational tendencies to calling you think beyond the beats while you’re grooving your brains out.
Father Divine is fantastically fluid parallel-universe second cousin to the hodgepodge hip hop of Beck or Saul Williams’s fusion of punk, hip hop and spoken word. From “Apt C2” to “The Last Sea,” and with help from France-based producer Gymkhana, Ladd breaks the levee on a gushing melting pot of laid-back grooves that change pace on dime or hang out and dig deeper, further sinking you in freaky funk and psychedelic soul and steel-tipped spoken word free-verse riffs, created to challenge the slumbering zeitgeist. Look for the onslaught to continue as Ladd plans to release new music in early 2008.