Although they may seem very different to the modern fan, jazz and hip-hop have always shared a very close relationship.
Both genres have extremely long and extremely rich histories, but hip-hop's very foundations are inextricably rooted to jazz. Sampling jazz has been a staple of hip-hop beatmaking since its origins, and many of its earliest practitioners such as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest (right on down to Kendrick Lamar today) owe a great deal to jazz for influencing their sound.
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The idea to intermingle the dominant African-American musical genres of the past and present has been around for many decades, so much so that their co-habitation has become the norm - serving to rejuvenate jazz in modern times while also expanding the horizons of hip-hop. And the partnership hasn't just been one-way either, with jazz legends like Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper liberally incorporating techniques that originated in hip-hop to their jazz repertoire (listen to 1983's 'Rockit').
Most recently though, its been Canadian band BADBADNOTGOOD (sometimes stylized as BBNG) that has been pushing this marriage of genres to the forefront. The conservatory-trained jazz outfit first made a name for themselves by covering contemporary hip-hop tunes on YouTube and on their first couple of EPs. Their invigorating post-bop take on instrumental hip-hop drew instant acclaim among modern critics and fans alike, serving as a gateway drug into jazz for a whole new generation of millennial rap fans.
Since then, BBNG have taken it to the next level by producing original material themselves (listen to III and Sour Soul), writing fresh compositions based on those same jazz and hip-hop fundamentals. But as amazing as their newer work is, we'd like to take a look back at six of BBNG's most famous reinterpretations of hip-hop classics ahead of their debut Singapore showcase at Sing Jazz 2016 next week.
(originally by A Tribe Called Quest)
A cozy, live living room rendition of a certifiable 1993 hip-hop classic. Fun fact, A Tribe Called Quest themselves sampled Ronnie Foster's 1972 jazz track 'Mystic Brew' to make 'Electric Relaxation', so the essence of this song is coming full circle here in a way.
(originally by Tyler, The Creator)
BBNG's fascination with Odd Future goes to their very roots, which is why they so often cover the collective. After catching Tyler's attention, the Wolf Gang rapper helped the band go viral by collaborating with them on several live videos. This performance of 'Orange Juice' is especially memorable.
'Fall In Love'
(original by Slum Village)
A wonderful version of one of J Dilla's most memorable productions. And to further illustrate the roundabout relationship between jazz and hip-hop, Dilla himself also sampled Gap Mangione's 1968 smooth jazz beaut 'Diana in the Autumn Wind'.
(original by Earl Sweatshirt)
The Odd Future connection continues with this on-point cover of one of Earl Sweatshirt's earliest and rawest cuts.
'The World Is Yours / Brooklyn Zoo'
(originals by Nas / Ol' Dirty Bastard)
A brave medley of two 90s New York rap classics. 'The World Is Yours' is the standout from Nas' legendary Illmatic while 'Brooklyn Zoo' was ODB's first ever single as a solo artist - and both songs are revered. There would have been no forgiveness if they had messed this up — but as you can hear, their gorgeous cover absolutely did the originals justice.
'Hard In Da Paint'
(original by Waka Flocka Flame)
Unlike their other covers of more soulful or boom-bap hip-hop, this Brick Squad homage really stood out because it was one of the hardest trap tracks out there at that point in time. Their interpretation wasn't only fascinating, it also worked on all levels, and proved to be the real precursor to their future covers of club-oriented bass anthems.
BADBADNOTGOOD performs on the opening night of Sing Jazz 2016, as part of a line-up specially curated by Darker Than Wax. Tickets can be purchased here.