Hip-hop/spoken word artist Mike Ladd has a warm, friendly, appealingly husky voice, a fleet, free-associative, cubist way with words, and a badass intellectual streak (the first two lines of this track reference French ethnographer Michel Leiris and Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski). But "Negrophilia" is all about Ladd's production and programming skills. With a band of avant-jazz musicians at his disposal (Andrew Lamb, Roy Campbell, Vijay Iyer and Guillermo E. Brown) he's put together the most successful fusion yet of free jazz and hip-hop, cutting and collaging their playing with his beats and words into a dazzling almost-cacophony. Intellectually this record comes in somewhat over my head -- Ladd's projects nearly always have complex concepts behind them, and this one is based on Petrine Archer-Straw's book "Negrophilia" and Ladd's ideas about "Postfuturist Paris." Musically, it's a wonder.