American Intelligence forms a kind of companion piece to the live show. It's presented in two versions: the triple-vinyl version, which clocks in at nine tracks, and the more unwieldy 15-track double-CD, which sags heavily as the second disc wears on. The tracks that Parrish performed live this year provide American Intelligence with its strongest moments. There's "Footwork," an irresistible call to dance floor and one of 2014's best singles, "Ah," with Ideeyah on vocals, is sweet and mostly drum-free, and "Be In Yo Self," equals anything in Parrish's catalogue in terms of groove and depth. The drums skitter on "Drive," on which Theo asks, "Where's your drive? Has it died? It keeps me alive." It sounds like a question posed to people around him—lazy DJs, unadventurous live acts, a music press he feels is suffering. "Life Spice's" stuttering loop makes it sound like an Ugly Edit of "Miss You" by The Rolling Stones, while "Welcome Back" is a three-minute imagining of a trip to the grocery store interrupted by a traffic cop, played out by Parrish and backed by belligerent drums.
The three rhythmically complex tracks that open the second disc of the CD version—"Cypher Delight," "There Here," "Thug Irony"—rumble on for a combined 20 minutes, and in truth they don't justify the length. American Intelligence is not as easy to love as Parrish's best 12-inches, records often defined by their samples—the orchestral Blade Runner sample in "Solitary Flight," the Mass Production sample on "Lake Shore Drive" all those years ago, the entire Ugly Edits series—but it's the next chapter for an artist who isn't interested in repeating himself.