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bbop for bboys (take 2)

February 7, 2012


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)

Big up to Danny at The Find for running the first one of these.  Thought I was done versifying on the topic, but some of the comments were interesting:

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.

Anyways though.