If you're a rapper or a serious hip-hop fan, you gotta respect the foundation and give credit where credit is due. Just like the classical music composers like Beethoven's and Haydn's playing was a natural continuation of the Baroque music lead by Bach, or how Rock N Roll was a neccessary progression of Rhythm and Blues; Hip-Hop is in more than one way a direct continuation of Jazz music. Personally, I consider the two genres, though very different to an untrained ear, as relaitvely close cousins to each other. The similarities between them are striking; in jazz you start from the rhythm section (which is for example drums, bass and piano) laying the foundation for the soloists to improvise over. In hip-hop, the beat is not rarely a sampled rhythm section which lays the foundation for the entire song. This is what the emcees/soloists then rhyme over, or solo if you will. One can draw direct parallels between the freestyle and battle, two beloved themes in rap, to the jazzmen's improvisation solo upon the bandstands that's a test of their skills. In fact it wasn't too uncommon that a reed player would have to prve himself by battling a more seasoned player on the bandstand back in the days,
When jazz evolved into the so called fusion music from the late '60s and on, jazzmen started incorporating elements of what they heard around them like rock, funk, rhythm and blues. This lead to the backbeat becoming harder and steadier, the music got more technical and electronic, introducing trendsetting instruments like the Fender Rhodes piano. All of these factors would later become staples of hip-hop production after beatsmiths like DJ Premier, Q-Tip and E-Swift got tired of sampling James Brown and George Clinton, and started searching out their fathers jazz collections for fresh inspiration. From the first years of the 1990s, a whole bunch of incredible rap acts were born and building their sound on classic jazz records from people like Miles Davis, Coltrane, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock and many more.
Looking back at '70s albums like Miles Davis's "On The Corner" with it's experimental african-american polyrhythmic funk, it can arguably be considered the first breakbeat/drum-n-bass album and an early predecessor to what hip-hop would once be. A couple of years later, with the emergence of Herbie Hancock and his funk/jazz monster "Headhunters" (and later his "Rockit" series with Bill Laswell and Grandmixer D.ST), things started in many ways really sound like esarly instrumental jazzy hip-hop. Therefore it came as no suprise that when Miles Davis went in the studio for the last time in the 1991, he enlisted producer Easy Mo Bee because his head was filled with the sounds of the street; Hip-Hop. The result was the slamming but somewhat underrated "Doo Bop". In closing, Hip-Hop and jazz has been close for years, from samples to actual collaborations and undeniable similarities.
Besides Miles and Mo Bee's project it was New York's finest, Gang Starr, that really opened the door full swing, with GURU's ambitious "Jazzmattaz" series
(1992 and 1995, respectively) and DJ Premier/Branford Marsalis "Buckshot LeFonque"
(1994). The compilation below is something I made with these type of actual collaborations in mind; many are remixes, some post-humous covers and a few are actual legends from both genres officially recording together. No matter how you see it, I can promise you that it makes for an interesting listen to say the least. Volume II is on the way, and will appear as soon as possible; featuring more of the same, but I think it will have a little more original collaborations so watch out for that! Til' then, enjoy and TURN IT UP!!
01 .Donald Byrd - "Stepping Into Tomorrow" [Madlib Remix]
02. Donald Byrd - "Think Twice" [J Dilla Version]
03. Charlie Mingus - "II B.S." [RZA's Mingus Bounce Mix]
04. Miles Davis - "Freedom Jazz Dance" [Remix] (Ft. NaS & Olu Dara)
05. A Tribe Called Quest - "Verses From The Abstract" (Ft. Ron Carter)
06. Brother Jack McDuff - "Oblighetto" [J Dilla Remix]
07. Grant Green - "Down Here On The Groun" [The Ummah Remix]
08. Ronnie Foster - "Summer Song [Diamond D Remix]"
09. Bobbi Humphrey - "Young Waarrior [Madlib Remix]
10. Branford Marsalis/DJ Premier - "Breakfast @ Denny's"
11. Cal Tjader - "Minority [Large Professor Remix]"
12. Miles Davis - "Black Satin [DJ Krush Remix]"
13. Charlie Parker - "Bebop (Live At The Rooftoop) [Remix]" (Ft. RZA)
14. Cannonball Adderley - "Bohemia in the Dark [Diamond D Remix]"
15. GURU - "Timeless" (Ft. Herbie Hancock)
16. Gang Starr/Branford Marsalis - "Jazz Thing" [Extended Instrumental]
'EVOLUTION OF THE GROOVE' (FROM JAZZ TO HIP-HOP)