It’s never just been about America. The rebel compassion of Sam Spiegel’s N.A.S.A. has always attracted those from astral plains and lunar parks, connecting artists, audiences and worldwide youth in revolt. With Minneapolis rapper Lizzo’s empowering refrain in “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!,” N.A.S.A.’s anthemic 2015 comeback with Sean Paul, political turbulence and intense social injustice clearly inspired the DJ, producer and composer to reinstate his revered, musical foreign policy.
In 2009, N.A.S.A. released The Spirit of Apollo. It was an epic debut album and an initial partnership between Spiegel and Sao Paulo’s DJ Zegon (who now produces under the Tropkillaz moniker) alongside over 40 guests including Kanye West (Spiegel was also the musical director of West’s Glow in the Dark Tour), M.I.A., George Clinton, Sizzla, Tom Waits, Karen O, Nick Zinner, Fatlip... An unfortunate turn of events followed, with Spiegel contracting Lyme disease taking him out of action and homebound in the aftermath. This meant no follow up album and no continued touring.
However, in 2013 N.A.S.A. bounced back to number one on the iTunes electronic charts for six weeks with “Hide” Remix featuring Aynzli Jones and Childish Gambino. Again, in 2014 he topped the iTunes charts alongside Karen O on a rework of “I Shot The Sheriff.” For over a decade, Spiegel’s creative collaborations with Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have included iconoclastic projects, from producing the band’s Grammy nominated sophomore record Show Your Bones, musically directing the psycho-opera Stop the Virgens and scoring the multiple award-winning adidas ad spot, “Hello Tomorrow.” With his production studio Squeak E. Clean, Spiegel’s film scores also include Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Beautiful Losers and the top three biggest selling skate videos of all time; Lakai’s Fully Flared and Girl Skateboards’ Yeah Right! and Pretty Sweet.
The multi-instrumentalist and producer has always brought together disparate forces under a groove and Spiegel’s N.A.S.A. in 2015 is truly a polyphonic and politicalized look at modern pop culture. Take “Jihad Love Squad” with KRS-One, a bold statement of intent, the track indicative of N.A.S.A.’s empathetic global voice. Sounding big, bashy and aggressive, collaborations on the new record explore music, ritual and conflict in the U.S to the Middle East, from India to Ethiopia, Brazil and Jamaica. On “Melt Down” Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra trades verses with DMX whilst Lizzo returns on the block party stomp of “Iko.” Other special guests include Sia, Busta Rhymes, RZA, Barbie Hatch, CeeLo, Jams, Leif and Mykki Blanco.
N.A.S.A. is a sonic peace advocacy, a bass embracing Guanyin who believes inherent love and shared respect for artistry—from Arabic scales to hip hop and vintage analogue gear—can squash differences through music and craft. There may not be a 20/20 hindsight edit of the past but it doesn’t matter: revolutions are created now.