Jazz and hip-hop have had a long-standing relationship. Fusion between jazz and rap can be traced back to the late 80’s and exploded as a sound in the 90’s. This fusion of genres was given the label of “jazz-rap” and afterward, groups like A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde perfected the sound in the early 90’s. Soon, it would become a cornerstone in the hip-hop world. Many jazz legends like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock ventured into the emerging sounds of boom-bap drums and melodic rhymes on top of a jazz beat. Miles Davis’s final album released posthumously in 1992 titled Doo-Bop, grasping elements of R&B and hip-hop, sampling Kool & The Gang and Slick Rick. It’s important to note Miles’ innovation with this album which dropped only one year after 2pac‘s first album 2 Pacalypse Now and three years before The Notorious B.I.G.‘s debut album Ready To Die. Miles Davis was able to capitalize on this trend in rap that would not be picked up by the majority of music fans and critics until a couple years later.
Since the creation of “jazz-rap,” the sound has evolved and changed throughout the hip-hop world. Artists like Common, J Dilla, and The Roots brought jazz-rap into the modern era with sample filled beats of the early 00’s and into the 10’s. With the release of their 1999 album Things Fall Apart, The Roots created a jazz filled hip-hop album masterpiece. Receiving praise from critics and fans, this was their first album to sell over 500,000 copies and has gone platinum whilst also being nominated for the best rap album grammy. Artists like Chance The Rapper and Kendrick Lamar are now leading the new modern jazz-rap movement. To Pimp A Butterfly is the best example of jazz rap in the modern era with Kendrick teaming up with jazz musicians like Terrance Martin and Robert Glasper to create a beautiful mixture of “jazz fusion and trap music.”
With such a lengthy history, we thought it would be best to give you two different playlists of the best jazz used in hip-hop. We have made one Spotify playlist that contains all the best jazzy tracks from the early 80’s, 90’s, and early 00’s. We’ve also made a Soundcloud playlist that contains our favorite jazz influenced tracks from the 10’s.
Stream both playlists below and stay tuned with TrueToo for everything hip-hop.