Jazz is no stranger to borrowing from others. The list of standards that artists take on a reinterpret in their own way is immense. An artist can take inspiration from anywhere. One of John Coltrane’s best-loved tracks is a reimagined “My Favorite Things,” a song he borrowed from The Sound of Music.
Hip-hop has a lot of jazz’s freewheeling DNA. Often hip-hop tracks are built out of previous work quite literally, through samples or remixing. Naturally, jazz’s smooth cool sound would appeal. And it’s not just the cool and funky tracks. One of my favourite hip hop tracks to base its groove on a jazz track is “Lucas with the Lid Off” by Lucas. It takes a peppy lick from the clarinet-playing bandleader Benny Goodman’s “When Buddha Smiles.” The video by a young Michel Gondry is definitely worth watching.
Here are some other great hip-hop tracks standing on the shoulders of jazz.
“The Choice is Yours (Revisited),” The Black Sheep
This duo from Queens brought great new rhythms and smart lyrics all with a driving beat. In one of their best-known songs, “The Choice is Yours (Revisted)” they manage to build a whole song on a two-second bass loop sampled from jazz pianist McCoy Tyner’s 1975 track, “Impressions.”
“Rebirth of the Slick,” Digable Planets
In 1992, Digable Planets hit the scene, shaking jazz into hip-hop in a brainy, cool cocktail. Their first single, “Rebirth of the Slick” slid along on a smooth bassline from Art Blakey and the Jazzmessengers’ 1978 “Stretching.” Listen for it throughout the track.
Us3 was an idea that had a few versions before they got it right. Geoff Wilkinson, a producer living in London, got the group together, melding jazz and hip-hop elements. The opening line of their hit song “Cantaloop” is spoken by none other Pee Wee Marquette, who was the master of ceremonies at the Birdland jazz club in New York. That spoken introduction is taken from a 1954 Art Blakey (him again) 1954 album A Night at Birdland Vol. 1. But the sample that runs throughout the song is none other than Herbie Hancock’s instantly-recognizable 1964 classic “Cantaloupe Island.”
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on Feb 07, 2012