In the wake of the death of Tom Rapp on February 11, 2018, the debut album from his psych-folk ensemble Pearls Before Swine, 1967's One Nation Underground, deserves another hearing. Strikingly literate, evocative, and by turns dour and playful, the album remains a unique document from a singular songwriter, and Drag City's 2017 reissue, restoring the original mono mix, sounds splendid.
Featuring collaborations with Sa-Ra, Madlib, 9th Wonder, Karriem Riggins, James Poyser, and Ahmir Thompson, this is the most hip-hop and most out-there release from Badu thus far. Lyrically, it's grounded in stark reality, alluding to the various failures of the U.S. health, education, and prison systems, and the negative and cyclical effects they've had on Badu's people. The masterpiece is capped with a tribute to J Dilla, written the day after the ceremony of the beloved producer's death.