Following last year’s Hip Hop Love Soul, Nicci Cheek presents no fewer than 15 tracks of offbeat, funky and intelligent hip hop but is it jazz? Not really but who cares if it works?
The beats are funky, there is plenty of wit and yes the odd bit of sax and jazzy stylings. Many of the artists have focused in on the ‘love’ word in the title, or more commonly where it has all gone wrong. Check the laidback and a teeny bit bitter ‘It Ain’t You’ by Wordsworth or the abandoned passion of ‘Miss January’ by The Procussions.
The result is an album designed for lounging around in your crib, perhaps even with romance on your mind and as such explores a tonal landscape more often associated with straight r ‘n’ b. Kev Brown’s ‘Albany’ hits this balance perfectly with a remembrance of love that has passed him by, slick beats and what sounds like a trumpet punctuating the chorus.
Smoky sax and soulful rap make sweet music on Pudge’s ‘Mona Lisa’ for one of the stand-out tracks on Hip Hop Loves Jazz bringing me back to some of those 12″s from Ubiquity way back when.
Amongst the hits are a few misses too. Miss Kim Hill for example has a powerful voice but synth-heavy production and too many clich?©s in the lyrics strung together mar what could have been a soulful scorcher. And don’t get me started on recording phone conversations to link tracks…
Getting back to the jazz, one of the best tracks on the compilation comes from ed/ge. A DJ Shadowesque slurred beats and sax number with a dark, brooding air and, perhaps tellingly, no lyrics. Does ‘Quasimodo’ work so well musically because improvising rhymes on top of anything like real jazz is like juggling while rolling a cigarette? ‘Roddy Rod’s ‘Pop’s Influence’ is likewise as interesting musically as it is silent lyrically.
All in all, one for the head nodders and the romance makers.