Friday, February 19, 2010

Jazz & Hip Hop

As I said in class, after the Kerouac reading this week, my mind went straight back to the 10th grade. All of the cars I found myself in sported tape decks, and of the tapes I listened to, I remember well an album by Gang Starr. Gang Starr is a hip hop group that overtly drew inspiration (and samples) from jazz. A close friend of mine in high school had turntables, and was constantly mixing jazz with hip hop. It seemed even then like a natural marriage, and helped me to see that hip hop transposes much from jazz, especially those artists in groups like Gang Starr, The Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest. A lot of hip hop (and hip hop culture) is so clearly drawing from literary traditions like stream of consciousness and musical traditions like improvisation and call and response. The culture is full of the same kind of competition and virtuosity that we have talked about in class. Below are some of the most obvious tracks that incorporate jazz, but there are many many more.

This video is Gang Starr's "Jazz Thing." Notice the parallel with Kerouac's "History of Bop."

This is Gang Starr's "Words I Manifest," set in part to a Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia."

This is The Digable Planets "Rebirth of the Slick (Cool Like Dat)." Most obviously a Miles Davis reference, but a tribute to many jazz artists.

Lastly, A Tribe Called Quest's "Footprints" off of their album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

Such good stuff. Dig it.

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