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Hip Hop Inspiration in Modern Jazz

This fusion of Jazz and Hip Hop not only changed the musical direction of Hip Hop, but also in turn influenced Jazz. The first, and probably most famous example of this is the final Miles Davis album, Doo-Bop, which he recorded with the help of Hip Hop and R&B producer Easy Mo Bee (AllMusic, Doo-Bop). Davis likely understood the similarities between Hip Hop and early Jazz and wanted to combine the two genres from the Jazz side of things. The record released in June 1992, less than a year after The Low End Theory, and was one of the first clear examples of Jazz artists being influenced by Hip hop. Another important source of inspiration from Hip Hop can be found in producer J Dilla. According to Robert Glasper who is a popular and well-respected Jazz pianist, J Dilla, a Hip Hop producer who frequently collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest, was able to chop and rearrange jazz samples in a unique way that inspired a whole new generation of both Hip Hop and Jazz artists (Glasper). Glasper explains in an interview alongside Jazz Saxophonist Terrace Martin, that J Dilla was unique in that he made beats in a way that instrumentalists, including Glasper and Martin, wanted to play like. In particular, they reference his off-kilter playing style which involved grooves that were intentionally “wrong” in the sense that they were neither directly on beat nor swung in standard fashion. The imperfections in his style, along with the styles of the many Hip Hop producers who followed him, stood in contrast to the landscape of increasingly computerized and quantized music of the 21stcentury. Other Jazz artists have shared their Hip Hop influences including the group BadBadNotGood, who famously covered A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” and British Jazz pianist Alfa Mist, who explained in an interview that he began as a Hip Hop producer before transitioning fully over to Jazz (Mist). The relatively new sub-genre Acid-Jazz is essentially a fusion of Jazz and Hip Hop with a British twist.

Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin Interview