Jazz Rap: a history lesson and playlist


If you’ve ever heard any of A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson .Paak, Digable Planets, Quasimoto or Noname then you’ve heard of Jazz Rap. Jazz Rap emerged in the 80s and 90s, right along with the rap genre’s own beginnings. Jazz had been used to sample and reconstruct new soundscapes for lyricists to rap over. It was mellow, it was jazzy and it was paying homage to black music. While the music itself was historically aware, the artists who participated seemed to be as well by adopting lyrics about the intricacies of black people in America and throughout. Gang Starr was among the very first to popularize the genre with songs like “Talkin’ All That Jazz” which sampled famous jazz musician, Lonnie Liston Smith. 

In 1993, Digable Planets released a hit jazz rap record called “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)” which sampled many a jazz artist including Herbie Hancock. After a time, jazz rap’s popularity began to dwindle in the mainstream sphere, but jazz still holds strong roots in the back beats of any rap song then and today. Jazz rap gave room for other experimental and unconventional forms of rap and hip hop as can be seen with MF Doom and Noname. 

Jazz Rap: a playlist

Award Tour: A Tribe Called Quest

Where I’m From: Digable Planets

Self: Noname

Blah Loops: Like ft. Kali Uchis

Running Shoes: Ivan Ave

Bluffin: Quasimoto

Me of the Papes: Jeru The Damaja

Dancing in the Rain: Blu and Exile

Mass Appeal: Gang Starr

They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y): Pete Rock & CL Smooth

93 ‘Til Infinity: Souls of Mischief

Poe Man’s Dreams (His Vice): Kendrick Lamar ft. GLC

The Strip: MED, MAdlib, Anderson .Paak

Next Levels: King Geedorah

4r Da Squaw: Isaiah Rashad

– cellar door