Today in Hip Hop History: May 18, 1993
The underlying concept of hip hop music is that it’s largely a derivative of jazz music; an improvisational black music form originating as a traditionally insubordinate subculture. It is only fitting then that these two music genres, separated by generations, would work well together.
Hip hop began as a form of sampling, using the breakbeats (sections of a song where the lyrics cut out) of disco, funk, soul, and blues to construct a beat. Sampling jazz music became popular with the rise of the Native Tongues. Not long after, jazz bands began backing hip hop tracks with live instrumentation. The album Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 is the originator of this still ongoing trend. 24 years ago today, the MC from Boston released the project as his first solo album and forever changed the concept of live band hip hop.
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 featured several notable jazz artists Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Donald Byrd, among others. The album weaved between classic Guru rhymes and traditional jazz scores. While acts like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul had already dropped jazz-centric hip hop albums, ones that sampled and mixed elements of jazz, Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 was fundamentally a jazz album first, with the rhyming aspect of hip hop taking a back seat. Just take a look at the tracklist and list of personnel. It’s insanely long. It might as well be labeled as a compilation album.
Regardless, many hip hop heads see Guru as one of the most innovative and important emcees in the development of the genre. His work with DJ Premier as Gangstarr produced some of the most classic tracks of the Golden Age of hip hop. His solo albums essentially introduced live bands into hip hop music, influencing the likes of The Roots and Heiruspecs.
Stream the innovative Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 below and let us know what you think in the comment section. For all things hip hop keep reading at True Too.