Song of the Day: Giant Panda – Laser Ray

photo by muni

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is Laser Ray by Giant Panda from the 2008 album Electric Laser on Tres Records.

Giant Panda – Laser Ray (MP3)

The LA trio Giant Panda is back with another set of retro, sample-heavy beats. After their debut, Fly School Reunion, was praised by hip-hop institutions like XLR8R and URB, Giant Panda decided to push the envelope a bit. Recorded and mixed on analog tape, Electric Laser is thematically and musically more electro-based than its predecessor. The heavy percussive elements used on their last effort get equal air time here, combining with the added synths to make floor-shaking funk. Spanning the album are party-hop numbers akin to Lyrics Born and throwback joints reminiscent of classic Jurassic 5. But it’s the genre-bending electronics that make the album a success, taking the group where so many hip-hop acts have failed to go. Albums like this help make the point that the future of hip-hop is now — paying heed to the past while keeping eyes straight ahead. Newman (MC, beats), Maanumental (MC) and Chikaramanga (MC, samples) are currently touring the Midwest, slowly making their way back to California. Check out their MySpace page for exact dates and enjoy this older performance highlighting the quality and cohesion of the group:

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