music, review

Hip-Hop & Jazz

I’ve got some real good stuff this week. Songs that get me jazzed up (heh) are ones that blur the lines between genres, bringing in the best of each and something entirely new all at the same time. Some of the hip-hop picks here are going to have some distinctively jazzy influences, but there’s bound to be something here for fans of both genres and all the little overlaps. Let’s just get to it!

If you’re interested in past posts, check out the last one where I revisited more of indie and acoustic.


1. “Rose Golden” by Kid Cudi ft. Willow Smith
It’s a damn good feeling when you click on a song and know it’s gonna be good from the first few seconds. Kid Cudi and Willow Smith’s talents have crashed into one another like two planets, creating a result that’s as bombastic as it is unique.

Drawn in with classic harps and crooning only to suddenly swing into a pounding beat, the song all but grabs the listener by the proverbial hand and leads them on a journey — hip-hop, classical and indie are just a few of the influences on full blast here and make for something that’s as interesting as it is plainly catchy. Their vocals are fantastic — I’ve become a huge fan of Willow Smith over the past few years and Kid Cudi’s voice has taken a turn for the gravelly, providing a stellar contrast for an overall stunning piece.

It’s a full-package song through and through. I was drawn in by the lush instrumentation, swayed by the fascinating lyrics and left tingling by the sheer personality of all the incredible talent on board. There’s just so much to talk about to the point I risk overhyping. Just check ‘Rose Golden’ out — you won’t regret it.

Oh, since I was young, been grooving to my own drum

Ain’t that many teachers show me my potential

2. “Do It” by Tayyib Ali
This song has been on my iPod for quite some time. I originally heard it from a commercial (a pretty common process with me) and immediately did everything I could to find the source. Years later I’m glad I put in the effort.

Brilliantly catchy with resonant lyrics that can speak to any young black creative, this song is a venture through the finicky nature of artistry, the drag of poverty and the joy you manage to find in spite of it all. It’s a song I like to revisit on an iffy day, as it somehow always manages to carry me through whatever ponderous slog I’m struggling with.

I’m a high school dropout, hard with the flow

Skateboards and this weed smoke is all that I know


3. “Callin'” by J. Peguero

Let’s continue to go on a journey through my old iPod, shall we? (the poor thing’s battery is all but defunct but I can’t bear to throw it away after all we’ve been through together). This song was on the airwaves for a short time a few years back but has since fallen into obscurity. While I wouldn’t call it the most stand-out choice on the list, I find myself still coming back to it for its troubled subject matter and memorable backbeat.

The song explores the nature of fame and its inherent double-edged sword — the lure of money and security coming with a struggle to maintain meaningful relationships, particularly romantic ones, because of the increased responsibility and pressure. If you’re looking for something a little low-key and introspective, you can’t go wrong with ‘Callin”.

It’s like you’re walking, I’m racing, but I can’t stop I’m chasin’

And you keep callin’, and you keep callin’, and you keep callin’

4. “Limoncello” by Skratch Bastid ft. Shad

Jazzy and upbeat, this song is keen to put you in a good mood. Then again, anything with a jazz influence is enough to put a goofy smile on my face. A hook with classic horns and saxophones straight out of an old-fashioned ’60’s swing number, it’s overlaid with a rap routine that talks about all the good things life has to offer. Particularly if you’re rich as hell. Hey, we could all use a little escapism, huh?

Less is often more and this song toes the line between having a lot and just going straight for simplicity. Still itching for summer? You found it all rolled up into one song. Put this on and pretend you’re gliding across the blue sea on your own boat instead of wondering if you’re having ramen or leftover pizza for dinner tonight.

Simon Davis playing, semon glazed sunset sky from the ground

Stone town home silk silhouette on the strip


5. “Skills” by Gang Starr (Oll-Zen Remix)

I’ve only heard a few songs by Gang Starr (I know, I know), but this remix has really stuck with me. As mentioned in past Sharing The Goodness posts, a remix is at its best (for me, at least) when it offers you something new while still honing in on what made the original so good. Trading in grunge for a lighter approach while maintaining just enough of the beat, this might be what you’re looking for sound-wise.

The dainty piano is lovely and halting, almost sparkly in its execution, and hearkens back to some of Nujabes’ best work. While you may take to the original for a more conventional street-hop sound, the remix has a personality all its own.

(Skills) Now, you feel it when we drop those

Hot beats stop phoes killin shit we got those

Like any of the songs? Got recommendations? Join me for the next post where I’ll be looking at some more R&B and lounge tracks!

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