Carlos Niño & Lil Sci Present What’s the Science?, Elevation (2008)
Initially released via iTunes last May, and then properly issued on vinyl and CD in the fall, Elevation finds Lil Sci exploring the happy metaphysics of song. There are several paeans to hip-hop, which he celebrates as “vibrations, love, tones, energy.” He refers to himself as a chemist, but he professes to be a master of language instead of physics. As Lil Sci embarks on his lyrical flights of fancy, Carlos Niño composes a background that shifts from Afrocentric drums (“Honor, Courage and Rhythm,” where Niño borrows an instrumental, “Life Force Contact,” from his Ammoncontact project) to elegant piano jazz (the lovely “Freedom,” which samples Pharaoh Sanders and includes a lovely chorus from Tiffany Paige). He doesn’t produce all of the tracks – Atwood-Ferguson, Flying Lotus and Daedelus contribute music – but his guiding vision keeps Elevation from dissembling into a patchwork of good intentions and saccharine melodies. Shaman Work Recordings.