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Where would HIP-HOP be without 1993? BADBADNOTGOOD Live at Montreux Jazz Festival

Updated: Jul 17, 2018

Where would HIP-HOP be without 1993? Let's ask BBNG

The 1990's and especially the year 1993 was the apparent "Golden Age of Hip-Hop". Imagine: Boomboxes, Afrochains and the colours red, black and green. Hip-Hop producers began recognising the past, mixing Jazz samples into tracks with kickdrums for good measure.

The "cross pollination" was genius, transferring Hip-Hip from just another genre to the commercial and cultural monster we have today. So, who were these pioneers, whose legacies lasted from '93 till infinity?

I met up with Canadian Hip-Hop/Jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD (#BBNG) at the Montreux Jazz Festival (#Mjf13). Musically experimental, with huge aural palates the band are major fans of the relationship between Jazz and Hip-Hop and the "boundary-pushing, soloist performance practices" featured in the genres. In other words, Matt (KEYS), Chester (BASS) and Alex (DRUMS) are self-confessed Hip-Hop heads as well as Jazz academics.

Their own music has the audacity to mix unexpected sounds (think Gucci Mane with John Coltrane) and pull it off eerily well. Formed in Toronto, the genre-bending, 90's progeny pick their TOP 5 Hop-Hop/Jazz tracks from '93 (In no particular order).

1. Black Moon "How Many Mc's" - Harsh Lyrics, accompanied by the surety of that trumpet playing in the sample make this track a classic.

2. Wu-Tang Clan "Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers" - Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat but BBNG felt the entire album is seminal I have to agree. A standout is C.R.E.A.M (CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME):

3. Digable Planets "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)" - "We be to Rap/What key be to Lock" Enough Said.

4. A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Maruaders" - Again, this is an album… ATCQ were the "conscious" soul of 90's rap.

5. Souls of Mischief "93' Til Infinity" - How could this track not be on the list?

Obviously, there are loads who could have made it: KMD, Lords of the Underground, The Roots, Guru and his Jazzmatazz…


How would you describe your Montreux Experience, so far?

C: Bit short so far... M: They have really good catering! (laughs)  A: Basically we've just got here. We've heard so much about the festival and the amazing bands. I remember watching the DVD's.  M: The place is beautiful as well. It's literally a huge honour, especially in the same place as Charles Bradley tonight.

How did their band start? M: We met in Jazz school studying 'Applied Jazz', we all hated it.  A:We informally formed the band. It started to work out and we got some attention. Things led to the decision to just, pursue this opportunity. Trying to make something of it. So far it's been going alright! C: Just always been the three of us. We Kicked out our trombone player (laughs)

How is the Toronto Hip Hop Jazz scene? Is there a scene? M: None of us are actually born in Toronto. I was born in Montreal. A: At the right time of our lives we lived there. Who's doing cool shit, and who is playing and where. C: There are a lot of great bands and venues but it's more about, or depends on: who were hanging with, how much money we have to buy tickets...(laughs) A: What the night entails...

Do genres scare you?

C: I wouldn't say we're scared. M: I guess we don't really care! A: I guess we're not really interested in using them to determine what we're interested in or what we're listening too. M: We always describe our music as some sort of mix of Jazz and Hip-Hop combination. But, it's always evolving and we're always picking from different styles.  A: We tried to keep it open.

What influence screamed at you to follow your dreams and not the 9 to 5? A: It was basically like: "Oh what university are you going to?" "What do you wanna do?" Definitely not something boring. Obviously not looking and thinking "Oh, I hope I have a career in this someday". C: I think that when we all... A: Why don't you say why you... (laughs) C: I'd say we all got into Jazz as it was the natural step when you're getting better at playing. You can get really serious [about music]. It's usually Jazz or Classical. M: In terms of education. It's more than a genre, it's an approach. C: Influences? Miles Davis 100%. A: His entire career is incredible. Pushing boundaries. The mid-60's onwards was cool for me as he put out [music] that some people like and some didn't.

Have you been surprised by the critical reception (positive) to your music? M: Defnitiely, its cool. A: We're very grateful. We just took a risk. We've taken our our adaptation on how to play live. We hope people enjoy it...We're very fortunate.

Have you reached out to MF DOOM? A: It's a hard erm... M: (laughs) A: Why don't I capture it in one sentence? We've met with Lex Records and they're amazing people with really cool projects, we actually hung out with him last week when we were in London. Let's just say... C: We've been in touch.  A: Which is amazing as we've been listening to him since grade 9!

Are you tired of talking about Tyler, the Creator? A: That's actually a great question. Usually everyone's like: "What's he like?" (laughs) M: They [press] google our name. A: (Mocking)What questions can I ask the night before? What was it like hanging with Tyler? I guess we're tired of like talking about being with him, but not working with him, as he's a great dude. M: He's really nice. He's fucking, one of the major reasons we're doing this. A: We're tired of talking about: "What was it like meeting with Tyler?" (THEN A RANDOM LADY FROM THE GREEN ROOM BURSTS IN...)

What are your ideas on the relationship between jazz and hip hop?  A: There's so many levels you can break it down. There almost, the exact same thing: Soloistic performance practices. You have something amazing in the background, then you have someone on top. We're always like: "Who did that solo? Who sampled that? Who's rapping right now?" M: It's really cool as you can identify, who' rapping, even if they don't know the song. A: You can easily tell what a 2PAC or MFDOOM verse sounds like. It's about their voices, their flows.... M: Which is exactly like Jazz. When you hear a Dolphy solo.  A: You know where they're coming from, even though it's sometimes an abstract sample or something. C: Like 5 string base on top of a session bass. A: We've actually never discussed the relationship properly at an interview. M: There's actually a lot of cross-pollination too. Then producers started sampling jazz records. Rappers started collaborating, more recently, with Jazz artists, vice-versa. A: An example being A Tribe Called Quest

Is the year 1993 actually significant for you? A: Chronologically a lot of great albums came out at that time, but in terms of Hip Hop. All of Hip Hop is amazing. The Kendrick Lamar album that came out last year...In my opinion is just as good as some of the classics that came out fifteen years ago. The best thing about Hip Hop is that you can't predict where it will fucking head next....Vocal samples pitched down four octaves M: Separate Hi-hat layers on the same track. Kick drums.... A: We don't want to stop listening to anything. Before and after 93' are just as important. C: 2006... A: I think we would feel more personally connected to 1993 if we were fifteen at the time. M: I was two! He was one. A: My parents were probably listening to Celine Dion!

You've been described as imaginative revolutionaries? Do you like this title or is their room for improvement? M: Absolutely not. C: Hate it. A: We come from an age where everyone is a revolutionary. If anyone thinks they're a revolutionary...It's not even about being humble.

What's on your Ipod? A: Hundred percent fitting for this show tonight. It's tasteful... M: Celine Dion!  A: T2 - It's all Workout in Boomland 1970's progressive British band. It's rare. Not online. Found it through a really serious record collector friend. Frank!  C: Last thing, for me...Trojan Records doing Reggae cover songs. "People Make the World Go Round" by The Stylistics covered by The Chosen Few. A: Is that one that compilation? C: Bunch of others too. Me and Mrs Jones. M: I've got this dude on mine, called Jerry Paper. Found him on a forum. A; We played a show in New York and he came. He looks like Matt. M: It's not me I swear. It's Jerry Paper. His music is like "cheesy but on purpose". Brian Eno, Hawaiian Synths... (THEN A RANDOM GUY FROM THE GREEN ROOM BURSTS IN...THIS TIME WITH CHOCOLATE...)

What's next for the band? A: New Album for us BBNG vol. 3 Finally confirmed a song for Earl Sweatshirt's new album.  (WE EAT CHOCOLATE ACCOMPANIED BY BOURBON)

BBNG will be playing London at LOVEBOX 19/7/2013. Get your tickets here.


Thanks to Matt L at Sofa King Raw and Antoine Bal at Montreux Jazz Festival.

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