Jazz is such a rich source of inspiration in hip hop that hip hop artists have usually felt a great affinity with the jazz tradition. Sometimes they sample of great tunes and catalogues like Blue Note Records. Sometimes they borrow from the sound and feel of great jazz. And on the second hand, there are more and more jazz musicians finding much to love about hip hop’s energy and forward thinking production. Here are some great songs where jazz meets hip hop.
1. Guru – ‘Loungin’ (Jazzmatazz Vol.1: 1993)
Guru’s Jazzmatazz Vol 1, recorded with a variety of singers, was a landmark exploration of the mutual love between jazz and hip hop. It was one of the first albums to include a live jazz band with rapping and hip hop production.
2. Madlib – Slim’s Return (Shades of Blue: 2003)
Madlib, one of hip hop’s most acclaimed and prolific artist/producers, was poised to be given access to the iconic jazz label Blue Note Records’ vaults. Shades Of Blue is the album that combines remixes and newly recorded versions of Blue Note originals by band Yesterday’s New Quintet of Madlib.
3. US3 – ‘Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)’ (Hand On The Torch: 1993)
Cantaloop featuring rapper Rahsaan Kelly was a big hit in 1993 and became the soundtrack to a million of clubs and cafes.
The legendary Birdland jazz club of New York gets a special mention at the start. But listen to 19-year-old jazz trumpeter Gerard Presencer and see how he shines on a new trumpet line recorded for the song.
4. A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ (The Low End Theory: 1991)
QTip and his group A Tribe Called Quest are some of the most revered and influential names in hip hop music genre and A Tribe Called Quest is their love song to jazz. It samples famed saxophonist Eli ‘Lucky’ Thomson, a contemporary of John Coltrane.
It was included on A Tribe Called Quest’s second album The Low End Theory – one of the first to celebrate the links between rap and jazz and also a pivotal album in the development of alternative hip hop.