Hip jazz, Hip hop jazz or Jazz rap can be traced back to the last decade in the twentieth century. The term was coined from two preexisting music genres- hip hop and jazz because it’s the point where the two genres meet, fuse and become one.
In the early 90s, some notable music bands like Gang Starr and The Roots revolutionized the music world by combining jazz with hip hop. The genre was born from different ideas and interests; the desire to pay respects to the predecessors of jazz and blues; to amalgamate the old African-American music of the past with the present trending style of music.
Jazz has been subjected to criticism due to its “lack of structure” according to critics. However, hip jazz is constituted by precise, repeating jazz loops over simple 808 beats and this has evolved and improved over the years. It has also influenced modern hip hop on a large scale. Instances can be seen in the cases of artists and bands like Badbadnotgood and Flying Lotus whose style of music have been influenced by Guru’s Jazzmatazz. The implication of this influence was such that Badbadnotgood decided to reduce the amount of rap in their music while they increased the amount of jazz or the mixture of both genres which produced the unique hip jazz sound that music lovers have come to enjoy so well. Many music lovers and artists have stated that hip hop evolved from jazz and hip jazz is simply an extension of that evolution.
There have been many situations where artists have produced music where jazz and hip hop were fused, the earliest and most notable ones include: Loungin by Guru, Slim’s return by Madlib, Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) by US3 and Jazz (We’ve got) by A Tribe Called Quest.
It is said that when Q-Tip, a member of the music group “A Tribe Called Quest” was a teenager- green, inexperienced and playing some hip hop- his father overhead the music and said it reminded him of bebop, a style of jazz that was developed in the mid-1940s. This further proves the deep-rooted connection and evolution of hip hop from jazz and that of hip jazz from the two genres. Jazz rap is also popular in many communities for its role in expressing people’s distress when it comes to socio-political issues.
Although the genre is widely accepted now, it wasn’t always the case. It was first met with criticism and was accused of tainting the name and style of jazz. A lot of jazz artists were annoyed at the seeming simplicity of hip hop and hip jazz and they further argued that the practitioners of the two later genres weren’t real musicians who have spent years studying and learning the craft. Jackie Mclean, a late jazz saxophonist said, “When I was coming up it was mandatory to know something about music and play an instrument. In order to do this, it required hours and years of dedicated study and practice. Today, you can just rhyme and talk and have a talent for matching rhythms together you are pretty much on your way; it wasn’t quite that easy when I was coming along”.
Even though Hip Jazz started as a combination of jazz and hip hop, nowadays, it is seen as a natural, independently-existing form of music and a pillar of many communities just like its predecessors. If you’re looking for a great collection of hip jazz, check out the portfolio of 1201 Music, the have a wide compendium of some of the best hip jazz available.