Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly: Beyond Hip Hop, Beyond Genre

It would be hard to find anybody who would call Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly anything but a hip hop album. Notable for its lyrical, musical, technical, and conceptual brilliance, Butterfly is a profound expression of and meditation on the African American experience in the context of a nation plagued by anti-black racism. It …

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With You’re Dead, Flying Lotus Puts a Nail in the Jazz/Hip Hop Intersection

My next installment of challenging the oft-declared "jazz/hip hop intersection" takes on Flying Lotus's 2014 album You're Dead. You're Dead—which features an impressive list of musicians including Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Herbie Hancock, Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, and Kamasi Washington—is the end result of Flying Lotus's seamless amalgamation of myriad stylistic influences. The album is adventurous, …

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Beyond Intersection: Thundercat’s Drunk

To continue the intersection of jazz and hip hop theme I wrote about in my last post, I thought I'd take on the music of Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, whose 2017 album Drunk demonstrates his genius ability to make music that is "beyond category"—or rather "beyond intersection." Thundercat, who spent nearly a decade playing bass in …

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Karriem Riggins and the “Intersection” between Jazz and Hip Hop

A lot has been made recently of jazz artists working with rappers and hip hop producers, especially folks like Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper's work with Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar. A key focus of jazz critics and journalists writing about these musicians is the "intersection" of jazz and hip hop as if the two …

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That time Fred Goodman likened the bari sax to the fat girl at the school dance

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to find a Pepper Adams LP for a buck at my local record store. It's pretty solid. After I put it on the felt I read the liner notes, written by Fred Goodman, who wrote for Cash Box magazine, which I had never heard of. Then in …

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