Closer Look: 1993 Jazz Rap

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.


Acts like A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Digable Planets and Souls of Mischief spearheaded the Jazz Rap movement throughout the 90’s and popularized the genre. 

Digable Planets

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.

Souls of Mischief

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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