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I like "Jazz" and "Hip-Hop" very much.You have really well written about Jazz and Hip-hop.I also agree with you.Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

Michael J. West

I'll also note that the pretty conventional Chicago blues beat he uses is far less like swing than it is the "four-on-the-floor thump" Sasha frets over in hip-hop ca. 2009. The "European pulse" is starting to sound awfully Afro-American, in't it?

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that S/FJ is pursuing a very thin slice of African American musical tradition, and accusing music that doesn't conform to it of abandoning the WHOLE tradition. Like the much-mentioned piece where he can't find black influence in the Arcade Fire. How about prominent percussion, 4/4 backbeat, and vocality, for a start?

Nate Chinen

Good stuff, gents. Briefly, to your question, Michael: Amusingly literal blues+rap hybridism can be found right here.

You'll note, of course, that Nas is also the person who sounded the "Hip Hop is Dead" alarm, cited both by S/FJ and V.V.

Michael J. West

How about "reliable forms"? Less than a page before decrying hip-hop for using them, S/FJ decries hip-hop for its recent lack of "blues-based swing" - a reliable form if ever there was one.

Roughly translated, "Hip-hop is abandoning its own conventions! And furthermore, hip-hop is becoming too entrenched in its own conventions!" Victor Vasquez is right: S/FJ's points are all over the place, and often contradictory.

And that's going along with an assumption that's highly questionable in the first place. When, exactly, DID hip-hop use blues-based swing? Wasn't that one of the major criticisms that Messrs. Crouch, Murray, Marsalis et al. have been leveling at hip-hop from the beginning - that it didn't swing?

Bret Sjerven

Good question? How else can a “jazz musician” shock a listener? Even the most uptight listeners have accepted what Coltrane and Ayler did in the ‘60s. They may not like it, but it’s there. What else is there to do? Jazz went electric decades ago. There have been the successful (and unsuccessful) fusions of jazz with rock, indigenous music from around the world, hip-hop, classical, what have you.

I’m not saying that the music is dead. Far from it. There are still aural scientists fusing improvisation with composition, acoustic instruments with electronics, etc. There are more progressives out there than ever before, most likely. I think that jazz music is self-referential and needs the elements of the past to move forward.

There is a fact shared. While there are many stylistic varieties of jazz, much of the audience never developed an appreciation for the more progressive forms of the music. That’s totally fine as there are many artists that happily cater to them and their canonization of the music. That being said, this is the part of the community that has become the face of jazz, not necessarily because of jazz media but by default. It is what most listeners can tolerate.

It comes down to labeling in my opinion. You’ve heard many artists that don’t want their music to be labeled jazz for as many disparate reasons. When I’m asked what kind of music I like, my typical response is, “Jazz.” That seems to satiate the questioner. Sometimes, I wonder what this answer means to them because, in my head, jazz covers so much. Jazz is kind of a flippant word that I toss around to escape what could be an extremely frustrating conversation.

Labeling is roughly the same problem found in the “hip-hop is dead” furor of the last few years. As a hip-hop lover, I’ll say straight up that most of the popular hip-hop music over the last decade and a half has been whack. Word. I think that the argument that popular hip-hop has died and replaced by a poor substitute is probably founded. I’ve noticed that many progressive hip-hop musicians have distanced themselves from the mainstream by labeling the more popular form disparagingly as rap music.

What is deemed progressive is up for debate. Hip-hop has always looked to the past for influences. The musical form built itself from the recycling and transforming of older music into new. Sampling snippets from records to create a new composition was essentially musique concrete born in the Bronx. Much has changed since the beginning of hip-hop. Comparing records from Sugar Hill and Anticon would be proof in the pudding. I feel that there is a lot of fantastic progressive music coming out of the hip-hop world these days.

To say that the “traditionalists” or, more appropriately, the underground are retrenching themselves into older styles is not looking at the history of these genres very thoroughly. I’d say that in both jazz and hip-hop there are and have been very interesting developments taking place that garner strong support from a very serious and involved audience. Do these music’s practitioners take elements from older styles? I think it is the very nature of both jazz and hip-hop to do so. Maybe it is part of the tradition to be progressive?

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