The passing of Donald Byrd a couple weeks ago got me thinking a little more on jazz's influence on hip-hop. Robbie at Unkut came through with the ten greatest Donald Byrd samples, which are a tribute to the man's work and his (unacknowledged, unknown possibly to him too) contribution to some truly classic cuts. And that doesn't include "Buck 'Em Down," "Self Destruction" and "Fear Of A Black Planet," just for starters.
Over at whosampled, Byrd is listed for over 100 songs sampling him and another 100 of music he produced--and remember whosampled is pretty incomplete (and that's a good thing, since nobody except DMCA and lawyers want all samples known. Sampling is like magic tricks, or pussy, or pussy magic...when it loses its mystery, we're all poorer for it). And compare that to Miles (96 samples) and Coltrane (40 samples--I'm pretty sure that's a crowdsourcing failure, right? Nobody sampled 'A Love Supreme' yet?! Common? Lupe? Some other cunnilingus adept rapper?! That shit can't be right.)
So on the one we owe Donald Byrd for a heavy grip of classics. Peace to him for that. Thing is though, while you could do a great 'Donald Byrd Sample Mix,'* it wouldn't sound all that...jazzy. (It's an idea though, I'll think on it. Actually I was trying to convince Hevehitta on the twitter the other day to do a series of all-one-breakbeat mixes.) Samples get cut up, flipped, slapped, tweaked and the result hits the groove but a lotta times far from the source--which is one of hip-hop's great achievements, that artistic transformation of sounds.
What I'm trying to say is, you know how scientists are always coming out with shit like, 81% of the human DNA comes from the housefly, or we're all descended from this one rat-looking-thing? If there ever was a Hip-Hop Genome Project, I think we'd find a much higher percentage of jazz up in there than you woulda guessed. Wait--not to compare jazz to a housefly or a prehistoric rat though.
Anyways here we got another hour of jazz/hip-hop beats where the influence is upfront, so forget everything I just said. That was just off the dome on account of Donald Byrd, I already had this mix going when he passed. C'mon son, it's not like you come here for the coherent hypotheses or even read all this wobbly verbosity. You come for the beats. I got you. I got your beats.
Conflict (DJ Critical Hype Blend) - Guru (feat. Masta Ace) / Ill Street Blues (Rework Instrumental) - STS / Stand Up (Ode to Allen Ginsberg's Beat Memories) - DJ Hellblazer / Blue & Green - Mr. Moods / The Second Shoot - Planet Soap / Morning - Maliks / Nonverbal Communication - Rob Swift & Dave McMurray / Endless Nights - Mononome / When the Dust Settles - Kurtis Sp / Pot Belly - Rob Swift & Lou Donaldson / Hypnotic - Eric B. & Rakim / Step Right Up - PremRock / Lagoona's Bliss - Live Human / Chi Nike 'e Pedi - DJ Manueli / Mont - Bil Basmala / Iron Head - U.X.O. / A Different Blues - Apple Juice Kid / Piano Fragments - Bones The Beat Head / I'm The Man (Instrumental) - DJ Premier / Loungin' - Guru & Donald Byrd
*Update:DJ Polished Solid - All Donald Byrd sample mix, great tracks there.
New York State of Mind, Part 2 (Perquisite Remix feat. Benjamin Herman by GMJ) - Nas / Me, Not The Paper (DJ Premier Remix) - Jeru The Damaja / Jazz Is My Religion - DJ Rob Swift (feat. Bob James & Dave McMurray) / Huah Ha - DJ Revolution / Slick Money - Senor Kaos (feat. P.SO & Large Professor) / Musical Journey - Kero One / L'intruso -thegodfatherExperience & Alice / Solo Dancer (Stop! Look! And Rock The House, B-Boys!) - Charles Mingus / L'chemy - L*Roneous / Bamboo Flute Blues (Kid Koala Remix) - Kid Koala & Yusef Lateef / Ibid, Desmarches, Ibid - DJ Spooky/ Endeavors for Never (The Last Time We Spoke You Said You Were Not Here. I Saw You Though.) - Shabazz Palaces / A.E.O.C. - Edan / Alternative 3 - PSY/OPSogist / Ice Cream Van - The RZA / Listen - DJ Osiris (feat. Mr. Dibbs)
Although I'd argue that jazz-hop has become just as sampled as old funk records by now (even though the depth to which producers have been digging through jazz has been pathetically unimpressive, in which I totally agree with you), jazz and hiphop music are completely non-compatible in all but a surface aesthetic or instrumentation. Jazz is inherently a music of improvisation and melody, hiphop is one of repetition and beat. Sampling a jazz record to transform it to a hiphop beat is akin to straight-jacketing it, basically killing everything which is vital and alive within it. Producers sample jazz-records the same way they sample funk records, which is completely the wrong approach.
Adversely though, Rap (the spoken word) is probably spiritually closer to Jazz, which has always been closely related to poetry. A free improvisation by a talented emcee within the fabric of a tight jazz group is a wonderful and natural thing, no different from the solo-ing of any instrument, and not too far from Scat Singing. Its a shame that few emcees have been really confident enough to put their ego aside and allow themselves to meld into the fabric of a improvisational jazz group, but the results can be spectacular. -Mladen
Dope article. But when discussing this subject I think it's important to stress that what it boils down to is that hip hop and jazz, though sharing some qualities, are two different animals. I think jazz and hip hop can play nicely together and at times borrow textures and aesthetics but unless one sets out to make a true fusion then we'll simply have hip hop music with jazz under/overtones and vice versa. -Stidak
I feel as a non-musician or beatmaker personally I can't judge if Mladen is 100% right or not. Maybe the improvisation aspect of jazz is being overemphasized? I mean, lots of musicians jam out...that's one (of many) reasons to avoid Grateful Dead shows, right? Isn't there some kinda improvisation involved in creating beats on an MPC or whatever, or even in turntablism? These are really not rhetorical questions: I'm not a musician, so I have no idea. The idea of freestyling/ciphers vs. that element of improvisation in jazz is definitely on point though. I also think there are some pretty varied beatmakers who use a great deal of elemental interplay which is beyond straight jacketing a sample into repetition.
I don't know what a 'true fusion' of hip hop and jazz would sound like...Buckshot Lefonque and that Easy Mo Bee/Miles Davis thing gave pretty piss-poor indications. Most definitely the best beatmakers are using a wide range of timing and textures, but can they really 'improvise' when every decision requires a conscious, technical aspect (i.e. 'now I'll sample this Ornette Coleman right here'...loads up WAV file, clicks around to find the sample, uses mouse to move it into place, etc.)?
Finally I think there is a common element to (certain kinds of) jazz and hip-hop, which is directed chaos, organized confusion: weaving together layers of discordance and finding a groove in there.
Scratchoetry - Alien Army / The Brew Out - Wu-Tang Clan (DJ 2-Tone Jones remix) / The Gift - The Whitefield Brothers(feat. Edan & Mr.Lif) / Jazz Thing (Movie Mix) - Gang Starr / Freedom Jazz Dance (Remix) - Nas, Miles Davis & Olu Dara / Human Language - Mumbles / Heat It Up (Album Version) - Rakim / Mystery (Reprise) - Miles Davis & Easy Mo Bee / Applesauce - DJ Quest / Dark Water Jazz - Jenova 7 / Sum Shit I Wrote - Common / Ha-Doh - DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo / Vermont - Airnino / II B.S. - Charles Mingus (RZA's Bounce Mix) / Dolphy Surround - JohnnyBoy & Manuele Atzeni / Ruby in the Rough - Celestial Impressions / It Sounded Like a Roc! - MF Doom / Jazz Break #6 - DJ Mark the 45 King / From Heritage - Dday One