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Jazz rap

From Academic Kids

Jazz rap is a fusion of alternative hip hop music and jazz, developed in the very late 1980s and early 1990s. Known for intellectual, often socio-political or Afrocentric lyrics and jazz beats (sometimes performed by a live band, instead of sampled), jazz rap has not become a huge mainstream success; it instead sells primarily to a small specialized fan base.

Though some claim the proto-hip hop, jazzy poet Gil Scott-Heron the beginning of jazz rap, the genre arose in 1988 with the release of the debut singles by Gang Starr ("Words I Manifest", which samples Charlie Parker) and Stetsasonic ("Talkin' All That Jazz", which samples Lonnie Liston-Smith). One year later, Gang Starr's debut LP, No More Mr. Nice Guy and their work on the soundtrack to Mo' Better Blues, and De La Soul's debut 3 Feet High and Rising have proven remarkably influential in the genre's development. De La Soul's cohorts in the Native Tongues Posse also released important jazzy albums, including the Jungle Brothers' debut Straight Out the Jungle (1988, 1988 in music) and A Tribe Called Quest's debut, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990, 1990 in music).

A Tribe Called Quest's follow-up, The Low End Theory (1991), included only a small amount of jazz, but the album was a critical success and is regarded as one of the most influential hip hop albums of the decade (it also included a stamp of approval from renowned jazz bassist Ron Carter, who played upright on one track). Though jazz rap had achieved little mainstream success, jazz legend Miles Davis' final album (released in 1992 posthumously), Doo Bop, was based around hip hop beats and collaborations with MC Easy Mo Bee. Davis' renowned ex-bandmate Herbie Hancock also returned to hip hop in the mid-nineties (after helping to kickstart the genre in the early 80s with his single Rockit), releasing the album Dis Is Da Drum. Another jazzman to dabble in hip hop beats was Branford Marsalis, who collaborated with Gang Starr's DJ Premier on his Buckshot LeFonque project. Concurrently, Digable Planets' Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was released to critical acclaim; it is often considered the first cohesive album of jazz rap. The work of Freestyle Fellowship and Aceyalone is a particularly notable development in fusing jazz with hip hop, building on the existing jazz-rap style by including jazz elements such as unusual time signatures and scat-influenced vocals.

Later in the decade and into the next millennium, Guru's first Jazzmatazz project, featuring live jazz musicians in the studio, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed jazz rap album yet: through its three volumes it assembled jazz greats like Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Courtney Pine, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett and Lonnie Liston Smith together with hip hop greats like Kool Keith, MC Solaar and Guru's Gangstarr colleague DJ Premier. The Roots, a live band that includes MC Black Thought, also achieved significant commercial success (though their jazz influence became less prominent as their career progressed), while English alto saxophone player and MC Soweto Kinch achieved notable critical success and moderate commercial success with his debut album Conversations With The Unseen in 2003.

Notable artists and albums

Hip hop
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Trip Hop - Freestyle - Hip house - Hip life - Go go - Miami bass - Nu soul - Ghettotech - Electro - Rap metal - Reggaeton - Merenrap - Urban Pasifika - Crunk
Jazz | Jazz genres
Avant-jazz - Bebop - Dixieland - Calypso jazz - Cool jazz - Free jazz - Hard bop - Modal jazz - Jazz blues - Gypsy jazz - Chamber jazz
Soul jazz - Swing - Acid jazz - Jazz fusion - Jazz rap - Nu jazz - Latin jazz - Smooth jazz - Trad jazz - Mini-jazz - Creative jazz
Other topics
Musicians - Jazz standard - Jazz royalty
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