In 1993, cleverly written (or freestyled) rap verses over smooth jazz instrumentals were coming to the fore of the fairly incipient genre of Hip Hop. Jazz and Hip Hop share an inherently improvisational nature that made for an organic coalescence of the two. The diverse rhythm of Hip Hop verses pairs well with the free-flowing melodies of jazz music.
Enjoy and subscribe to the latest Closer Look above! Scroll down for the individual tracks selected from the Jazz Rap of 1993.
The influence of jazz music on the genre of Hip Hop is readily apparent. In many cases, aspiring rappers were influenced by their jazz inclined parents. For example, Nas’s dad was an excellent jazz musician, even performing on some of his son’s records. Rakim of (Eric B. and Rakim) could play the saxophone and his mom was a professional jazz artist.
Lyrically, the genre diverged from the Gangsta Rap that was prominent at the time and approached more intellectual issues like Afrocentricity, Philosophy and Social Injustice in the United States. This conscious lyrical content was a distinguishing element of the budding subgenre within Hip Hop. For example, Digable Planets demonstrate both their affinity for jazz and existential ideology, saying, “Checking out some Fromm, some Sartre, Camus/ Mingus’ Ah Um, damn Roach can drum” on the track “Pacifics (Sdtrk ‘N.Y. is Red Hot’)”. This was a step away from the more braggadocious and violent lyrics that characterized the Gangsta rap that was also flourishing in the Hip Hop world.
Though it arguably peaked in 93’, albums like Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed “To Pimp A Butterfly” from 2015 have helped to carry the brilliantly shining torch of Jazz Rap into the 21st century.
Digable Planets – Rebirth Of Slick(Cool Like Dat)
A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation
Souls of Mischief- 93′ Til Infinity
Guru- No Time To Play
Freestyle Fellowship- Inner City Boundaries
Us3- Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
The Coup- Dig It
Lords Of The Underground- Madd Skillz
Brand Nubian- Love Me or Leave Me Alone
Black Moon- Who Got Da Props
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